The austere renovation of a Catalan house

OSB panels, concrete floors, exposed bricks and wooden beams: Vallribera Arquitectes adopts a material and low-cost approach to renovate a young couple’s row house.

Renovations like the one carried out by Vallribera Arquitectes studio we see a lot of lately, especially in Barcelona and Catalonia. The “style” is easily recognisable: emphasising existing building materials such as the bricks of the walls or the wood of the ceiling makes it possible both to reduce the cost of the work and to characterise the space. The same motivations follow the choice of cement for the floor and the use of OSB panels (made from glued and pressed wood scraps), which are by far the cheapest available on the market.

Vallribera Arquitectes’ project was commissioned by a couple who decided to leave the city and found Vallès the ideal place: a terraced house with a longitudinal layout, a simple, ground floor construction with a small garden.

Vallribera Arquitectes, 105JON – Renovation of a row house in the Vallès, Barcelona, 2020
Vallribera Arquitectes, 105JON – Renovation of a row house in the Vallès, Barcelona, 2020

The overall strategy of the renovation follows the principles of optimising the existing: the footprint on the ground was altered and the existing envelope retained, while improving the thermal performance. As more floor space was needed to meet the family’s needs, the architects took advantage of the geometry of the roof, which leaves plenty of space at the ridge, to add a mezzanine. Its blue-coloured metal structure is another key feature of the space, which instead of looking bare and incomplete is rich and welcoming.

The combination of the various design strategies results in a compact house, very efficient in terms of energy requirements and able to meet the clients’ needs within their budget. But was there really a need to make the bathroom countertops out of wood as well?

Vallès, Barcelona
Vallribera Arquitectes
90 sqm

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