Raúl Sánchez Architects Ensures a 19th-Century Townhouse in Barcelona Maintains Its Historic Charm
2022 Best of Year Winner for Residential Transformation
Located in El Born, one of the city’s historic districts, this late 19th–century town house, dubbed BSP20, was a wreck when Raúl Sánchez was called in to renovate it in 2013. Thanks to regulatory and other delays, the makeover of the slender, four-story structure took eight years to complete, with only one thing remaining constant throughout: the client’s determination that the brick walls remain exposed and unaltered. All the floor slabs were demolished, leaving the rough masonry shell a vivid record of the building’s past. The replacement floors don’t touch the street nor the rear facades, however, leaving gaps filled by walkable glass at the front and a spiral staircase in the back that winds all the way up the 50-foot void to the roof deck. A skylight naturally illuminates the rear wall.
The 900-square-foot interior is flexible, the only determinative factors being the kitchen and bathroom fixtures on the ground level and third floor, respectively. Wiring, plumbing, and HVAC ducting is concealed in seven stainless-steel tubes that run the full height of the house. All the built-in furnishings and fittings, including the stair, are custom and white, except for the kitchen cabinetry, which is clad in gleaming brass, and the cream-lacquered wood with black and brass detailing in the bathroom. Flooring is either oak planks or colorful hydraulic tiles, their geometric patterns echoed in the aluminum paneling that fronts the new entry door—the only element of the restored street facade exempt from strict landmark regulations.
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