H Arquitectes, living and nature in Granollers
This family house recently constructed on the outskirts of Barcelona was designed by H Arquitectes for a local family, a firm that specialises in residential projects. This large house includes a variety of spaces that accommodate different activities and situations. One of the most important aspects of the project is its sustainable approach to the internal environment, maintaining a comfortable temperature over the year while being respectful of the natural environment. The following is descriptive text has been provided by the architects.
The in-fill site is located in Granollers within a residential area. The long and narrow plot, measuring 6.5 m wide, is accessed from both front and back. The only element of the pre-existing house, which was in ruins, to be retained was the facade to the main street it was considered to have a certian historical value.
The design of the house inludes a variety of spaces
The clients wanted to clearly differentiate the two zones of the house: one accommodating the domestic areas where the family's daily activities would take place and the other a secondary area, that exists separately, used as a more isolated and calm living room as well as functioning as a place where large meals can be catered and groups of friends can be entertainned. The family area is then located next to the main street and the secondary area which is separated from it by the garden is located at the western boundary of the site with vehicualr access.
The family living area of the house
Because the original layout offered little direct sunlight and as a way of gaining improved privacy internally the building was set back from the street line, the built areas to the front were removed to provide the entrances through a courtyard on both sides to the house and improved solar gain and transitional spaces, both spatially and climatically using retractable roofs that capture heat in the winter and ventilate during the summer. These bioclimatic spaces form the first threshold that link one a series of spaces from one street to the other offering a variety of conditions, characteristics and properties in a comfortable and quality living space. The total ground floor area consists of 345 sq.m., 53m in length from one façade to the other, and which acts as a communal living area with access to the stairs to the more private upstairs and the service areas in the basement.
The rear facade with vehicular access
Each room is individually considered yet carefully connected with the next, separating and identifying the specific use for each area. In this way the overall ground floor combines different character interior rooms, with low and high ceiling heights, elongated spaces, semi-exterior covered and sun conservatories as well as covered and uncovered outdoor rooms. This sequence of differentiated spaces creates a certain ambiguity about the structure, about what is inside and outside, reinforced by the different ceramic treatments and external skin textures, wall thicknesses, given the ceramic materials, different skin textures, a double brick wall facade (filled with 10 cm wood fiber isolation) and a self-regulated humidity and thermal inertia system (producing stable temperatures between 15 and 25ºC).
View of the rear courtyard
Simple elements like the sun shade are used to control internal temperature
This was also an opportunity to use brick masonry and create post-compressed beams that offer a variety of densities from the thinnest most solid parts of the ground floor to the thickest, most perforated in the upper floors. Not only does this create different rhythms and textures within the structure, but the denser areas help stabilize and maintain the interior temperatures.
The main living room
Detail of the external skin finish
The internal finishes help create thermal comfort
While the house environemnt is linked to a geothermal system, where the floors and metallic sheet composite-slabs work as large radiators, or radiant surfaces, to help dissipate summer heat, the exterior brick wall prevents thermal bridges as well, where the solar protection elements hang on the outside of the facade. This high internal inertia, linked to the ground temperature, produces a stable thermal behavior year round, using a minimal amount of energy.
- Photos; Adrià Goula