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Hybrid layering

Refurb of a housing project

23.04.20

Vallirana 47 is a markedly sensitive refurb of a small mid terrace apartment building located in Barcelona, completed in 2019. The project was recently awarded the Frame 2020 award for “best small apartment building of the year”. Designed by Vora Arquitectos (vora), an architectural studio founded in Barcelona in 2000. It is headed by Pere Buil and Toni Riba, both graduates from ETSAB in 2000. They combine architectural practice with teaching, curating and cultural interventions. The description below was provided by them.

Vallirana 47 is a somewhat anonymous and discreet building dating from the early 1920s. Its value isn’t connected with its individual expression, but rather the sense of street continuity and its historical era. The project consisted of the refurbishment of 5 of the 6 dwellings that the building accommodates as well as the common spaces. The apartment layouts are based on a conventional distribution of corridor and small rooms, little altered, with interiors featuring hydraulic mosaic flooring, plaster mouldings on some of the ceilings, high and narrow painted wooden doors and windows, folding window shutters, etc. Some of the units had original features that are increasingly rare to find nowadays.

  • Vallirana vora architects
  • Vallirana vora architects

     

    Inspired by the idea of an intervention of the client “pontejos” (conservation and preservation), we based our approach on a hybridization, between the new and the old, which was new territory for our studio. We worked with the existing identity of the building in a way that could be described as both continuous and interventionist, with a respectful but at the same time playful attitude.

  • Vallirana vora architects
  • Vallirana vora architects

     

    The new spatial arrangement is superimposed onto the existing one in an expressive way, through contrast and displacement. Flooring and ceilings reflect the architectural order and hierarchy of the original spaces, while the partitions reflect both the memory and transformation of the units.

  • Vallirana vora architects
  • Vallirana vora architects

     

    The new building materials sit cheek-by-jowl with the existing in detailing and ornament. Many of the building elements of were reused, helping to maintain its atmospheric continuity. Everything that was added underlines this continuity from the most tactile aspects to the more abstract ones: glazed tiles, addition of graphic patterns generated by the building's construction, wall papers, etc . The approach is highly sensual, incorporating the layering of elements that characterised the residential buildings of that time, specifically in the detailing of the finishes and fittings.

  • Vallirana vora architects
  • Vallirana vora architects

     

    The finished spaces provide a density of layers that are legible within that resonate with their envelope. Filled with hidden meanings and resonances for those who can interpret them, that also generates visual comfort, deliberately differentiated from the sheer and anonymous surfaces of present day construction, so that future tenants will feel at home from the first day.

  • Vallirana vora architects