A 19th-Century Banana Warehouse Becomes a Bright, Adaptable Home

A 19th-Century Banana Warehouse Becomes a Bright, Adaptable Home

By Michele Koh Morollo
Once a warehouse for bananas imported from the Canary Islands, a vaulted stone building in Barcelona is reborn as a contemporary triplex home.

Built in the late 19th century as a storage warehouse for bananas, this stone building in Barcelona’s Sant Antoni neighborhood was partially destroyed by air raids during the Spanish Civil War.

Despite the damage, local architect Valentí Albareda of Metric Integra saw potential in the building’s stone walls, handmade rasilla bricks, and vaulted basement. Albareda worked to transform the crumbling building into a 1,389-square-foot triplex residence.

The entrance to the triplex.

Glass panels integrated into the attic floor provide the illusion of a double-height space.

Albareda didn’t have a client when he started the renovation, so he had creative carte blanche to redesign the interiors as he saw fit.

"I created flexible living areas, with four spaces/rooms that could be used by either a family, a couple, or a single person in different ways," says Abareda, who later sold the completed apartment to a couple.

Albareda fitted the large vaulted openings in the basement with glass doors.

The vaulted doors lead out to a courtyard.

The "ceiling" of the courtyard is composed of a panel of gridded metal, which draws sunlight down from the upper levels.

Albareda opened up the rear wall of the basement with two vaulted thresholds to connect this previously dark and cold space to a small indoor courtyard with potted plants. 

The new staircase conceals a bathroom and storage.

Texturized glass covers a section of the attic floor.

He removed a section of the attic floor, and introduced a chunky new volume that contains a bathroom, storage, and a staircase that leads up to the master bedroom. He covered part of this cut-out section with an iron-and-glass floor to enable transparency and light penetration.

Albareda restored the original stone walls and wood beams.

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Oak wood features in the parquet floor, the attic support structure, and some of the furniture.

"Carrying the huge panels of glass through the vaulted courtyard openings was a big challenge. We also had to make sure we cut the parquet for the new volume precisely so they slot nicely into the irregular stone walls," says Albareda, who is happy with the final result. 

The basement features a microcement floor.

Abareda used traditional and local materials to update the interiors while respecting the building’s original character.

"As a new, flexible, three-bedroom home, this former banana warehouse is brighter, has better circulation, and increased functionality and comfort. The result is dwelling that fulfills its owners’ needs, but still respects the soul of the original space," he adds. 

The bathroom in the basement.

Related Reading: A Salvaged Apartment on Mallorca Leaves its Roots Exposed

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Valentí Albareda of Metric Integra

Builder: Metric Integra

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