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 height 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 focused 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.
Photo © Carlos Garmendia Fernández.