The project involved the full renovation of a 240m² family home in Girona. Being one of a select few houses built in the nature reserve in the 1970s, the house was protected and the volume could not be increased but the facade and interior distribution could be adjusted.
The challenge was in turning a very ugly facade into something beautiful and breaking open the traditional maze of interior rooms and passages into an open plan airy set of spaces with an inside-outside flow and a celebration of the spectacular views over the surrounding forests.
Despite its tight size, we were able to fit 3 spacious bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 separate kitchen-living-dining spaces, a machine and storage room and a wrap-around terrace. Although connected to the city’s electrical grid, hot water for the house and under-floor heating is generated by an air to water heat pump which provides cost savings in the long term. The house uses water from a communal well and a septic tank processes the sewerage waste. Insulation was added to the building envelope to increase thermal comfort and reduce energy bills.
The house saw a total overhaul. The basement was turned into a 2 bedroom guest apartment with its own kitchen and living spaces. Access to the main house is from the first floor. On either side of the staircase are the storage and machine rooms for the aerothermal machines. The heat pump is located outside, below the new terrace. The old design had a long staircase to the entrance which we removed and replaced with a wrap-around terrace and a few large platforms that form inviting steps to the entrance. All the interior walls have been demolished to create a completely new distribution. Opening up the facade meant that we had to prop up the entire house as we were basically removing most of the exterior structural walls. But the new views to the surrounding nature reserve were worth it. As it is such a small house, the importance of having such large openings becomes more important as it enhances the sense of spaciousness.
The kitchen, dining room and living room were once all separate. We demolished all these walls to create one continous space with a central double-sided fireplace and no entrance hall. We broke through the central structural wall to create an open plan master bedroom with a bath with views to 3 sides. Besides for the architectural and structural design, the project required a lot of interior design and there is carefully designed built-in furniture and joinery around the house.
The garden was also designed by ZEST and incorporates water-wise plants and gravel as there can often be droughts in the area. The balustrade is designed to continue down to the ground, thus allowing creeper plants to grow up and bring more greenery into the house.