A Renovation Turns a Once-Abandoned Barcelona Building Into an Airy Home

The design team combined a Japanese sensibility and Spanish details with pine finishes and a red tile floor.
Photos by

To take full advantage of the vertical character of this abandoned apartment, architect Masaaki Higashi and designer Esther Mir of Mas-aqui tackled the project in two ways. First, they excavated the previously unused basement to open communication between floors and establish double-height rooms. The excavation also set a stylistic tone for the home. Higashi chose to leave the concrete retaining wall exposed, but then contrasted the flatness of the stone with lively slats of pale pine and plywood to provide support. The slats, played out in patterns through the house, serve dual purposes wherever they appear. 

In the dining room, pale wooden slats placed side by side run the length of the ceiling. This not only brightens the space, but also supports the weight of the upper floor. A staircase of floating wood slats rises and disappears behind the kitchen’s far wall, providing visual interest as well as a path to the light-filled studio above. 

In the studio, a series of vertical slats form protective barriers on each side. One doubles as the base of a long, glass-topped table, the other as a clever bench. Throughout, the wood embraces the overall structure, like the traditional Japanese basket cradle or yurikago the house is named for. 

 Another clever, dual-use structure is the low concrete fireplace in the kitchen. Its large, boxy form provides a "step" to access the living room from the dining room. Because the fireplace does not provide quite enough lift, Higashi added two sets of movable wooden steps. 

Shop the Look
Offi Embrace Table
The Embrace Table is a clever coffee table comprised of two smaller tables that can serve a variety of uses. Designed to store modern media, this award winning piece of furniture offers a low shelf, table top and angled magazine storage when the two tables are joined together in an 'embrace'.
Schoolhouse Orbit Sconce
A handblown glass globe gives a mod sensibility to our chem lab inspired wall mount. Constructed in our Schoolhouse factory in Portland, Oregon. Shade included. Bulb sold separately.

 Higashi says the Japanese aesthetic—the simple lines, the focus on natural light and pale wood, the concept of dual use—was key to producing the "flow" and maximizing use of the relatively small space. 

But just as important, he adds, was protecting the Spanish essence of the house. Red tile floors and arched entries in the lower levels, and the original volta catalano arches of the upper floor ceiling, create a playful energy in the house.  

More by Mas-aqui: 

A Barcelona Couple Turn a Warehouse Addition Into a Live/Work Space 

Picture Windows and Sliding Doors Work Magic in This Cozy Barcelona Home 

Project Credits:

Architect & Designer:  Mas-aqui (architect Masaaki Higashi and artist Esther Mir) / @masaqui.architecture

General Contractor: REHAB design

 Photographer: José Hevia


Last Updated

Get the Renovations Newsletter

From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.