When Madrid- and Bilbao-based design firm Zooco Estudio was tasked with a complete renovation of a semi-detached home in the northwest part of Madrid, they "sought to achieve a feeling of openness and visual communication between the different areas of the house."
But at just over 1,600 square feet parceled out over four floors (including the basement) with narrow footprints, accommodating this goal for the owners—a family of three—was a challenge. To do so, the architects decided to focus the more public, communal areas of the home around a single element that could carry through multiple spaces and even traverse distinct floors: a bookshelf whose function changes depending on its location and dimensions.
As soon as you enter the home, the all-white shelf winds its way throughout the space. "It functions as a wardrobe at the entrance, to store music in the TV area, and as a tableware display in the dining room," explains Zooco Estudio. As both a storage unit and a physical divider, the shelf allows for visual connection between spaces—joining the entry and dining area, for example.
At the main entry level, the shelf greets you at the entry, with horizontal components specifically spaced to accommodate jackets, longer coats, and shoes. Elsewhere on the ground floor, the shelves wrap around the living room walls, extending upward to the floor above and creating a double-height space that feels open and larger than its actual footprint.
The shelves, explains Zooco, "integrate aesthetics and functionality in a single element." They "work as a constant backdrop that adds neutral and bright nuances," with its simple construction and white finish that allow the homeowner’s possessions to take priority.
Throughout the home, the finishes are simple and straightforward: Solid oak floors (usually laid out in a herringbone pattern) meet white walls, ceilings, and bookshelves. One exception is the stair, a sculptural element whose black, folded steel contrasts in both form and color with the white, rectilinear shelves.
In a playful twist, the architects inverted the wood floors and white walls in the kitchen, instead putting white tile on the floor and making the shelves and cabinetry out of wood. The white tile keeps the general scale of the herringbone floor, but provides a contrasting pattern.
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Upstairs, white shelving continues, this time acting as a railing as well as a storage solution. The two bedrooms and bathroom are distinguished from the hallway by vertically oriented slats, "hiding the access doors and bringing visual unity to this entire area," say the architects.
Finally, the top floor is reserved for the master bedroom, where the same vertical slats found on the floor below are repeated as a separator between the bathroom and the sitting area. Above, skylights flood the spaces with natural light.
More by Zooco Estudio: White Metal Boxes Transform a Madrid Loft Into a "House Within a House"
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