Chu Uroz's home-office “Joan d'Austria” designed by External Reference

A garage converted into a flexible domestic space to be shared

by Malcolm Clark
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When designing this unusual home-office in Barcelona called Joan D'Austria, the Italian-Spanish architects External Reference started from the assumption that domestic space influences the user in a very personal way.

“At present, new lifestyles, new families and more flexible professional routines, have favoured the emergence of a unique user profile, one that is complex and involves having a clear understanding on personal needs.” assert the designers. “This is the case of the inhabitant of this both residential and work space: Chu Uroz, an industrial designer, active art director and one who is very involved in the world of fashion, advertising and performing arts. Our client raised the idea of devoting a warehouse to hold a photo shoots studio, design space, meeting room, room for auditions, castings and fashion shows, and finally, a home. Therefore, creating a space that one would be able to live, work and play in. Due to this, the project acquired exceptional guidelines. The spirit of all design decisions were based on giving shape and structure to a domestic space, that seeks to be understood mainly, as a space to share. In this sense, the socially outgoing and energetic personality of the user is reflected in the project. The space becomes a kind of inhabited scenery where public and private interact with few apparent limits.”

The project is spread over two floors, the ground floor and the mezzanine. On the entrance level, on the ground floor, there is a large space for a photo studio and an office which includes a meeting area located below the living space of the loft.

The mezzanine has a large living space where the domestic functions merge with the common areas. Areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and walk-in closet are located on one side of the space, creating a service area which can be closed by sliding doors when needed. The central space is occupied by an islands group, which contain the sofa and the sliding bed. This space can also be used as a casting area and as a catwalk.

As a point of transition between the two levels, a light but imposing structure of metal bars that serves as an exhibition area for the wide collection of pop and kitsch objects of the customer has been integrated into the project. The OSB panels painted white, the metal bars, the polycarbonate and the black painted bricks are the main materials used in the project. Each element of the design has been hand made, no CNC machines have been used to make the elements of the refurbishing.

“The original building, a taxi garage, offers a powerful industrial spirit, which serves as a reference for the project and its future evolution. All in all, the functional program, the reduced budget and the client's ambitions leads to low cost systems but with eloquent dramatic effects.”

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    Joan D'Austria 29

    Joan D'Austria

    Barcelona / Spain / 2013