An Art Gallerist’s Bachelor Pad in Madrid Revolves Around a Bold Red Storage System

An Art Gallerist’s Bachelor Pad in Madrid Revolves Around a Bold Red Storage System

By Michele Koh Morollo
With a budget of $100,000, Gon Architects renovates an attic apartment with the kitchen and bathroom contained in a multifunctional, red volume.

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 exterior of Stored House on Calle de Pelayo in Madrid.

The entrance to the apartment offers a glimpse of glossy red cabinetry.

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. 

The renovated apartment is fresh and airy with exposed beams and brickwork. The photograph "Man running with sugar clouds, Taksim, Istanbul," is a work by American photographer Ana Nance. 

"The brick column works like a solar clock, and everything revolves it," says Pardo. "The modulations of light are reflected on it. Through the shadows you can know approximately what time of day it is, and also perceive the changes of the seasons." 

The red furniture system contains the kitchen and a large bookshelf.

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. 

At the entrance of the house is a painting by artist Francisco Roa. 

The wooden floors lead you through the house, their alternating designs and colors marking passageways and spatial sequences of study, of rest, and other day-to-day activities.

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.

Alvar Aalto’s Pendant Lamp A440 hangs over the Jean Prouvé’s round Guéridon Table in the dining space. 

The floors operate like wooden carpets that demarcate the space. 

The concrete-and-brick column was left exposed for an edgy, industrial feel.

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. 

The 48-foot red furniture volume, which is about two feet wide, traverses the interiors, articulating it and adapting to it like a red glove.

The red furniture system, which does not extend all the way up to the ceiling, works as a frame that structures the interiors. It contains the kitchen and bathroom, and also provides ample storage for Rubio’s books, designer furniture, and decor.

The red volume unifies the different functional zones within the apartment.

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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. 

The house also works as a dark box: when the openings are closed, the house plunges into darkness to create an atmosphere of quiet contemplation. 

The sunlit bedroom.

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. 

To reduce cost, Pardo constructed this glossy red volume using kitchen furniture units, so the clothing drawers are the same type used for cutlery in the kitchen nook, and the same sink model was used for both the kitchen and bathroom.

"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. 

Stored House floor plan drawing

Stored House sectional drawing

Related Reading: Budget Breakdown: Built For Under $10K, a Cabinet Room Expands a San Francisco LoftA Renovated Apartment in Sweden Boasts Sunny Yellow Storage Walls

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Gonzalo Pardo of gon / @gonzalopargo_

Interior Design: Vonna / @vonna_studio

Collaborator: Clara Dios 

Photography:  Miguel de Guzmán, and Rocío Romero of Imagen Subliminal

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