In order not to overload its original stone walls, this townhouse in a peaceful neighborhood in the Spanish city of Palma de Mallorca gets a second-floor extension of lightweight plywood, bringing its usable floor area up to 2,000 square feet.
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The home—owned by architects Alberto Sanchez and Aina Salva of Spanish studio SMS Aquitectos, who also designed the extension—explores the local manufacturing of plywood elements with a CNC router, and taps into the the carpentry heritage of the island of Mallorca to create the floor and framework for the extension.
"We start from an autonomous and de-contextualized structure base or pre-existence, for which we manufactured an off-site, prefabricated plywood system," explains Sanchez.
Working with 96" x 48" poplar plywood boards, the architects created a framework that gave them the chance to investigate and test out a structural system that integrates local materials and craft techniques with factory processes.
The architects’ experiments with the optimization of CNC routing resulted in a structure with a variegated geometry, and a decorative surface that marries tradition with modernity.
This plywood structure creates ornate patterns on both the ground-floor and second-floor ceilings, so both the old lower level and new upper level are linked through a geometric rhythm that resembles the arabesque ornamentations in the old town of Palma.
Within, the house has various atmospheric pockets.
The northeast- and southwest-facing rooms have a romantic ambience thanks to the soft quality of the morning sunlight that make these spaces glow.
There are rooms that look into an interior patio, and also rooms that enjoy the best of the afternoon sunshine, along with views of a castle nearby.
"By combining the elements of this system, defined by the capabilities of the CNC cut, the system serves as a starting point and can be reproduced in other types of buildings," says Salva.