After approximately a year’s worth of work by Barcelona–based architecture firm TWO-BO, a dated apartment in the city’s iconic Eixample district has been tastefully transformed into a contemporary abode for an American family of four.
Built in 1897, the residence had surprisingly—and fortunately—preserved many of its impressive original features, from the intact cornices and frames to the stunning Nolla Mosaic tile flooring throughout.
"Stepping on 120 years of history is always risky," the architects say of the renovation, dubbed Apartment AM. "Age and tradition can cover everything under its weight and make change and improvement impossible. However, the common alternative of erasing all that memory and starting from scratch seemed disrespectful."
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With this in mind, the architects cleverly combined elements from the original construction with modern additions and surface materials to meet the client’s needs.
Key to the transformation was rearranging the 1,722-square-foot floor plan. As was common of Barcelona residences in the late 19th century, the residence originally comprised multiple small rooms connected with a central hallway—a layout completely at odds with the client’s desire for a bright and open home.
Consequently, the architects tore down partition walls—and in the process uncovered original brick walls, ceiling moldings, "construction scars," and other elements that the team deliberately left exposed.
The tile flooring, installed over a century ago, is undeniably one of the most beautiful preserved features of the home. The geometric stoneware style is known as Nolla Mosaic, named after the Valencia merchant, Nolla, who introduced the technique to the area back in the 19th century.
"We strived for a balance between two building approaches: the old way of cement-and-water, hand-placed construction work, and the new way of dry construction based on oak frames and layers of painted wood," the architects explain.
"The old-fashioned endures without becoming a weight. The new is laid without wiping off what once was."
Lighting Design: Punto Luz
Photographer: José Hevia