White Metal Boxes Transform a Madrid Loft Into a “House Within a House”

By Lucy Wang / Published by Dwell

Inspired by contemporary Japanese architecture, a converted loft in Madrid gains functionality and minimalist charm without losing its airy appeal.

When a client reached out to Spanish architectural firm Zooco Estudio to redesign his loft in Madrid, he requested that they turn the completely open space—empty save for two centrally located bathrooms—into a three-bedroom, two-bath home with space for work studios and entertaining.

Pictured here is one of the home's three bedrooms. The man is seated atop the entrance to the en-suite bathroom.

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"The privacy in the different areas of the house is handled by the opacity of the glass that encloses the in-between spaces. Most are transparent, but some are translucent or opaque, depending on the need for privacy," note the architects.

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To meet the needs of the challenging brief, the architects turned to contemporary Japanese architecture for inspiration. Following a minimalist, MUJI-like aesthetic, the architects inserted a series of metal boxes of varying heights and sizes to divide the interior.

Drawing inspiration from Japanese contemporary architecture, Jorge Alonso Albendea gave the home a modern and minimalist aesthetic.

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The metal structures inserted into the loft are as thin as possible and painted white so as to preserve the loft's open and airy feel.

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"The project consists of building a house inside of a house, which means that it is more similar to the process of building a single-family house than an interior rehabilitation," explain the architects. "This is because it has its own structure, enclosures, and installations."

Wooden surfaces—from the bathroom door to the screen that provides privacy to the upper bedroom—complement the existing pine floor and exposed timber structure.

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Painted white to match the existing white brick walls, the eight-centimeter-wide metal elements were made as thin as possible to achieve a clean, streamlined appearance—yet they're thick enough to hide utility lines and support the upper floor and false ceilings.

Operable slats in front of the lounge can be opened or closed for privacy.

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Above the lounge is a casual work studio with a desk surface that's suspended from the ceiling.

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Timber, waxed concrete, and glass round out the minimalist material palette, which complements the existing pine floors and wooden pillars.

Waxed concrete surfaces define the minimalist bathroom.

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A sliding pocket door to the toilet saves space and contributes to the bathroom's streamlined look.

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"This structure is sometimes resting on the floor and other times hanging from the ceiling, and its in-between spaces are filled by wood or glass panels depending on the function they embrace," notes the firm. "The volume allows the development of different uses and scales; it offers both intimate and collective spaces."

A glimpse inside the kitchen, which features a waxed concrete floor.

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The open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room are located on the side of the loft closest to the windows.

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Cabinets beneath the stairs provide additional storage for the third bedroom.

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The second bedroom is located on the upper floor.

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A view from the top of the stairs towards the upper-floor workspaces.

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JHouse Axonometric Drawing

JHouse ground floor plan

JHouse upper floor plan

JHouse section

JHouse section

Related Reading: A Multipurpose Bedroom Box Is This Tiny Apartment's Genius SolutionAn Art Gallerist’s Bachelor Pad in Madrid Revolves Around a Bold Red Storage System

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Zooco Estudio

Builder/General Contractor: Nimbo Proyectos SL

Structural Engineer: BEdV Architects

Lighting Design/Interior Design/Cabinetry Design:  Zooco Estudio

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