After purchasing an 840-square-foot attic apartment in Madrid’s trendy Justicia neighborhood, owner Andrés Rubio—a journalist and cofounder of Madrid’s alternative art gallery Mad is Mad—met with Spanish architect Gonzalo Pardo of architecture studio Gon, and asked him to transform the property into a suave bachelor pad.
Pardo was intrigued by Rubio’s request: "I need a lot of light, and darkness to sleep. I’m a freak. I hate air conditioning. At home, I work on weekends and I meet people, but I never have parties. I collect contemporary art. I like to eat in the kitchen, and read on the sofa. I like to take long showers, and I am obsessed with order. I have $102,240 for the restoration of the flat, and I want to celebrate next New Year's Eve at home."
The original apartment, which was constructed in the 1950s as a watchtower addition on top of a 19th-century building, had four bedrooms and three tiny, street-facing windows that did not bring in enough natural light.
Pardo updated and brightened the interiors by removing all the old false ceilings and partitions, enlarging the openings facing the patio to the east, and adding new apertures to the west to frame views of the city and sky.
From inside, the flat’s three wood-framed, glass balcony doors allow Rubio to look straight out to the horizon and the roofs of Madrid. From outside it is possible to see a domestic, transparent interior through these doors.
The apartment has a concrete perimeter, with functional spaces organized around the only vertical supporting column—a central brick column reinforced with steel, under the highest point of the ceiling. The wooden ceilings beams were left exposed.
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The new openings were strategically positioned so the house can become a kaleidoscope of lights. Their easterly and westerly orientation emphasize the changes of light throughout the day. In summer, when the bedroom window and the skylights are opened, a gentle breeze enters, so Rubio can sleep comfortably without the need for air conditioning.
Using the bold red, multifunctional volume as the framework, along with the apartment’s existing central brick column, Pardo turned the apartment into a container of sorts that provides neat storage for Rubio’s books and objects, allowing them to add to the design language with geometry and color.
"Because it does not touch the ceiling, the red furniture also has the quality of an object. But it's not just an object for storage, but also a landscape within the house," says Pardo.
Collaborator: Clara Dios
Photography: Miguel de Guzmán, and Rocío Romero of Imagen Subliminal
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