Refurbishment of an office into a dwelling in Bilbao

Bilbao / Spain / 2016

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We have been novated to carry out a change of use of a space, located in the first floor of a residential building in the expansion district of Bilbao, into a dwelling. Said space was previously destined to provide an activity connected with the tertiary sector.


Such original space was divided into five small offices, two toilets and a L-shape corridor that gave access to all these facilities.


Due to the radical change of use of the space, we decided not to keep any existing element and emptied the space completely, as a preliminary step to establish the new layout of the dwelling.


Before designing the new layout of the dwelling, we assessed the benefits and the drawbacks derived from the use of this space as an office.


On the one hand, the place has a large glazed area, much more lagger than the ones we often find in the typical houses of this city. Moreover, and also opposite to the standard, this glazed area used as a window is arranged horizontally along the elevation, which is opposite to the vertical configuration or to the typical square sizes of the window prevailing in the residential buildings of Bilbao.


Besides, there is a significant heigh of more than three meters and a structure composed of columns and beams made of concrete together with floors made out of the same material.


On the other hand, we found that this space was difficult to design due to its morphology, the inappropriate location of the only available patio and all the restrictions existing in the premises related to the plumbing and ventilation systems of the building.


We decided, as much as possible, to highlight the above mentioned features, which were assessed positively, and to emphasise the horizontal design by means of which the dwelling communicates with the outside and provides the space with an industrial touch so often despised.


Considering said two basic characteristics of the place, we made all the different decisions of the project, either in plan or in section, and tried to emphasise this idea of ‘unique space’.


This is how, as you enter the dwelling, a big entrance-studio hall in a dark color frames the big horizontal window which brings daylight into the central space of the house which extends up to the original height of the room. Additionally, we decided to leave the existing structure visible taking advantage of the above mentioned industrial touch.


In plan, everything spins around this space: the other rooms being distributed along the remaining area, always focussed on the central idea of the horizontal design.


With regard to the materials, we wanted to create a contrast between the hardness and the warmth. A hard and damaged concrete is softened by the use of cosy materials and welcoming elements such as oak, neutral shades or classic curtains, among others. All said materials and elements will make it possible to create a warm atmosphere without leaving aside the main character of the existing structure.


This project aims at highlighting the good features existing in the place and introduces a functional dwelling design, making it clear that the new space is something new within an already worn box which contains stories that should remain visible to those who want to know about them.


[ES]
Reconversión de oficinas en vivienda, Bilbao
Ubicado en una primera planta de un edificio residencial del ensanche de Bilbao se plantea un cambio de uso de un espacio destinado a una actividad terciaria a un uso como vivienda.
Dicho espacio se encontraba dividido en cinco pequeños departamentos, dos aseos y un pasillo en L que daba acceso a todos ellos. Ante el cambio de uso tan radical se descarta conservar cualquier tipo de elemento, vaciando el local completamente como paso previo al levantamiento de la nueva distribución.
Antes de plantear la nueva vivienda se analizan las ventajas e inconvenientes que presenta la oficina derivadas de su propio uso; por un lado el local cuenta con una gran superficie acristalada, mucho mayor de lo que es habitual en las viviendas características de la ciudad, además, también contrario a la norma, esta superficie destinada a ventana se extiende de manera horizontal por toda la fachada al contrario del hueco vertical o de proporciones cercanas al cuadrado predominantes en los edificios residenciales de Bilbao.
Del mismo modo se cuenta con una altura importante, de más de tres metros, y una estructura de pilares y vigas de hormigón con forjados construidos mediante losa del mismo material.
En el lado opuesto nos encontramos con una planta difícil de distribuir como consecuencia de su morfología, de la incómoda ubicación del único patio con acceso y de las limitaciones existentes en lo referente a la situación de las instalaciones de evacuación y ventilación del edificio.
Se decide, en la medida de lo posible, remarcar esas particularidades entendidas como positivas y enfatizar esa horizontalidad con la que la vivienda se relaciona con el exterior y que, además, dota al espacio de un carácter industrial tantas veces menospreciado.
Bajo esas dos premisas básicas se toman las diferentes decisiones de proyecto, ya sea en planta o en sección se intenta primar esa condición de “espacio singular”.
Así es como un gran vestíbulo-estudio de color oscuro enmarca en un primer contacto con la vivienda ese ventanal que ilumina el gran espacio central de la casa el cual alcanza toda la altura existente, dejando así toda la estructura a la vista sin renegar de ese carácter industrial antes referido.
En planta todo gira en torno a ese espacio, repartiéndose el resto de habitáculos por la superficie restante y siempre respondiendo de igual manera a esa sumisión a la horizontalidad.
En lo referente a la materialidad se busca un enfrentamiento consciente entre la dureza y la calidez, un hormigón castigado y duro se suaviza mediante el uso de materiales y elementos acogedores como el roble, las tonalidades neutras o cortinas clásicas entre otros que permiten obtener un clima amigable sin renunciar al carácter protagonista de la estructura existente.
Un proyecto que intenta ensalzar las bondades de lo que ya existe sin renunciar a un esquema funcional de vivienda, dejando claro que lo que ahí se crea es algo nuevo dentro de un envoltorio ya desgastado y con historias que merecen seguir estando visibles para aquel que desee escucharlas.


Author: Garmendia Cordero arquitectos (Álvaro Cordero Iturregui, Carlos Garmendia Fernández) www.garmendiacordero.com


Photographer: Carlos Garmendia Fernández http://carlosgarmendia.wixsite.com/arquitectura


Situation: Bilbao. Spain


Area: 115 m²


Year: 2016


Budget: 63.000 € (550 €/m²)

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    We have been novated to carry out a change of use of a space, located in the first floor of a residential building in the expansion district of Bilbao, into a dwelling. Said space was previously destined to provide an activity connected with the tertiary sector. Such original space was divided into five small offices, two toilets and a L-shape corridor that gave access to all these facilities. Due to the radical change of use of the space, we decided not to keep any existing element and...

    Project details
    • Year 2016
    • Work finished in 2016
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Apartments / Interior Design / Refurbishment of apartments
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