Charmingly Askew: Santa Agata Barcelona Apartment by Bonell + Dòriga.
Located in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Gracia, this tilted, asymmetric and askew apartment renovation by Bonell + Dòriga centres the interior around how its spaces will be inhabited. Not only in relation to the needs of its dwellers, a couple of musos that often rehearse at home both alone and in the company of others, but also in the arrangement of the pieces of furniture, beyond pure functionality.
The studio looked at how they could adapt bespoke furniture pieces to a configuration of rooms that are narrow and long in their proportions, relating and superimposing each other to create—in the words of the designers—“a dynamic continuum of interlaced visions.”
Two rooms with a view to the quiet street have been preserved while the rest of the interior has been largely liberated from partitions. The bulk of the apartment is configured around two clear spaces separated by a load-bearing wall and accessed by existing openings.
Although the apartment is not very large, the lack of division creates an illusion, making the space feel amplified and airy. The corridor disappears and an open but hierarchical zone allows for an exploration of different functions. Here made-to-measure pieces of furniture become the hero, adding life and activity to the open interior.
Anchored to the perimeter, the furniture begins to sculpt the inner rooms. Sloping, crooked and off-balance they transform the feeling of perception — the hall closet creates a secluded and intimate nook that leads to the bedrooms and private areas while the sofa faces the terrace indicating a more open living space. Meanwhile, the centre is freed up for up to 4 or 5 people to jam together.
The large window towards the block courtyard, which receives sunlight during a large part of the day, is re-thought and transformed into a hybrid piece between façade and furniture. A Hitchcockian “rear window” that faces outwards to the neighbourhood, and embraces the living space inside.
The existing flooring is reused, a hydraulic cement tile with a simple pattern rotated 45º from the structure of the apartment. While the rotation no longer covered the entirety of the floor the designers delimited space by creating a composition of new recycled tiles that border the diamond flooring.
Existing soft vaulted ceilings inform a motif throughout as curved corners, arches and surprising half-circle detailing offer a soothing antidote to the rigidity of the right-angled objects and built-ins.
Off-kilter in every way, this charming renovation makes us reconsider convention, prioritising the needs of the client over typical functionality that has culminated in a joyful and startlingly open apartment.
[Images courtesy of Bonell+Dòriga.]