The original house is part of a neighborhood in Madrid first developed as an enclave for notable artists and writers at the turn of the 20th century. The use of regional styles reflects the tendencies and tastes of that era and the early influence of Moorish culture on Spanish architecture.
During the initial design phase, it became evident that the circulation needed to be improved. By editing and opening up as much as possible the hallways and stairs, a prominent new circulation hall (public space) took form connecting the multiple floors of the house. In re-utilizing the surrounding existing rooms (private space), the circulation space was carefully developed into a kind of internal courtyard similar to the courtyards at the Alhambra, one of the greatest examples of Islamic architecture. The decision to focus the design to the internal courtyard eliminated the need for unnecessary alterations at the façade addressing the local code requirements for its conservation. The strategy produced a conservative treatment of the existing rooms setting up a significant contrast to the developing central space. The rooms were restored to original characteristics and details of the old house with the idea that these are the rooms where the day to day lives of its inhabitants will play out and their most intimate belongings stored, the very things that make a home. As a result, the rooms are left intentionally small, cozy, even colorful at times, and by default, very personal. In contrast the public space is open, airy, naturally lit, and neutral, serving as a transition space from one room to another.
The initial steps to create the central space involved the introduction of a large floor opening at the second floor to bring natural light down to the original semi basement, which was previously used as a service floor. The site was partially excavated further increasing the natural light to this level and thus permitting new uses: a formal entry; a play room; and a new dining room with direct access to the exterior garden. Additionally, the principal stair was extended down to the lower level, and up to the new occupiable attic. A operable skylight was then added to serve as a light well and a natural ventilation core for the entire house. This system, referred to as a stack vent effect-- another concept with Islamic origins-- in combination with the exterior garden provides an effective means of naturally cooling the house.
The garden was planted with fruit trees and seasonal vegetation to reflect the passing of time with flowers and changing colors. The deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter to permit natural heat gain in the building and provide the all-important shade during the warmer months. A new terrace under three birch trees serves as a shaded outdoor-dining area eliminating the need for a parasol or sun canopy. A paved terrace at the back of the house covers a new sunken garage and forms a swimming-tide pool. Ivy grows at the base of the perimeter retaining walls visually erasing the property’s constructed borders. The vegetation in combination with the pool, sprinklers, and mist sprays, contributes to a cool and humid microclimate; a natural oasis for the dry summer months of Madrid.
With so much of the house constrained and informed by its historic heritage, the main architectural feature of the project became the articulation and definition of the public space and its related detailing. Working with NY artist Stephen Schaum, a former assistant to artists like Marisol and Michael Gray, a special computer script was written to generate hexagonal patterns to be milled into the vertical surfaces of the circulation space, simulating traditional Arabic geometric motifs (the six-sided figure representing heaven). The milled surfaces mark the extents of the interior public space lending to its cohesiveness and distinction from other areas of the house. The patterns are continuous and uninterrupted even when encountering windows and doors only varying in porosity or density to reflect the program of each of the surrounding rooms or exterior beyond.
The hexagons vary in size and are cut into the surface, sometimes perforating the material completely and communicating visually and acoustically with the other side. A white acrylic polymer solid surface material (HIMACS) is used for many of the treated surfaces for its strength and translucent properties. Perforated window shutters made entirely of acrylic sheets are evidence of this with its display of dramatic light and shadow. Painted MDF panels milled with the same perforations were applied where transparency is not required in order to control costs. In semi private areas, solid acrylic is an in-fill material in the perforated MDF panels to permit light (natural or artificial) but not sound to pass. The computer script facilitated the desired permeability in different areas of the house creating unique patterns specific to local conditions. Parametric controls defined the size of hexagon openings where more light can enter and when greater privacy is needed. Once the design was finalized, the same computer script provided the digital information needed by the fabricator’s CNC machine for production.
The result is a reinterpretation of traditional Arabic architecture using new technologies and modern materials.
En este proyecto de rehabilitación, en un guiño a las influencias moriscas del edificio, los arquitectos Paula Rosales (estudio www.more-co.com
y Kenneth Kim www.more-mas.com
, se inspiraron en la Arquitectura doméstica tardo andalusí y en la Alhambra para el tratamiento de las superficies, texturas, secuencias de espacios y juegos de luces y sombras.
La vivienda existente se re-organiza en torno a un espacio central de circulación, que más que un simple distribuidor, se concibió como un espacio común, núcleo principal al que se abren las habitaciones adyacentes, y lugar de encuentro de los habitantes de la casa. Este espacio se extiende desde la entrada principal en planta baja hasta el distribuidor de la última planta. El elemento unificador que le da su identidad es un revestimiento continuo a modo de piel con distintos grados de perforaciones y relieves que crea una superficie texturada, desarrollada en colaboración con el escultor neoyorkino Stephen Schaum. Esta superficie tratada continúa delante de puertas y ventanas graduando su opacidad y densidad según la privacidad requerida.
Todas las estancias principales de la vivienda están conectadas por el espacio central. La luz cenital de un lucernario ilumina las escaleras y se filtra a través de las superficies perforadas. La vivienda se ventila verticalmente abriendo el lucernario y las puertas de planta baja, dejando que el aire fresco y húmedo del jardín y piscina refresque los pisos superiores. Las contraventanas perforadas controlan el caudal de ventilación y protegen de sol.
Con un programa informático se generaron los patrones de hexágonos, personalizados para cada zona de la casa. Con este programa se realizaron pruebas según la permeabilidad deseada en cada superficie, y se entregaron los archivos al fabricante para la producción con una máquina de control numérico.
El resultado es una reinterpretación de la arquitectura islámica usando nuevas tecnologías y materiales.