The little and the much in architecture | Blog From the shooter to the city

This is a project of neighborhood and life, of interior and street, of little and much, of the joy and dignity that can be in a color and of the importance of finishing the works well, no matter how tight the budgets and economic Materials employed. It is signed by a couple of careful architects: Anna and Eugeni Bach. And it is located in the old center of the Horta neighborhood, northeast of Barcelona.

Here everything is small: the three floors —one per floor—, the building itself, the plot squeezed between two party walls and even the narrow streets where the property is located. And yet everything is magnified by the care put into design and construction. It is not true that construction is not the responsibility or achievement of architects. They design so that buildings are constructed more or less easily. They decide, when they can, which materials will adapt to the budget, will stand the test of time and will better accompany the lives of those who inhabit the flats. They too decide how the house will look on the street. The facade will give dignity, identity and a sense of belonging to the inhabitants. The internal, flexible organization will give them freedom, multiply the light and require them to be more orderly. The distribution, in rooms with a trapezoidal floor plan, will leave room for the large and will include an area where the small will fit.

The architects explain that the first thing they thought about was the double dialogue that the neighborhood demands —with its history and character— and contemporary architecture —with its materials, its cleanliness and its tendency to simplify. By keeping the façade with the usual holes, elements and proportions of the neighborhood – balconies, shutters, baseboards or stucco – history was respected. Taking care of the details, simplifying the elements and coloring them, updated that tradition. One of the balconies escapes from the perimeter of the façade to also speak with the only neighboring farm that “does not comply with the rules of good neighborliness”, indicate the designers. That balcony from the roof, brings that common space closer and announces it to the neighbors.

The 40-square-meter houses are organized around a central space. There comes the staircase and there are the bathroom and the kitchen. The living room and bedroom have natural light from the facade and from a block patio. As both rooms are the same size, the flats can be shared, as students, or allow deciding where to sleep (overlooking the street or collected indoors) and where to locate the living room (indoors without noise or with the street entering through window). “In the end, adding the different combinations, we get seven ways of living in three houses.” It is the Bach way of adding, a couple who, with little, manage to multiply.

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