The “sartorial” conversion of an old building in Palma de Mallorca

In the center of Palma de Mallorca, OHLAB’s renovation project highlights the potential of a 3300 sqm building through a subdivision into 15 unique dwellings.

A majestic residence, made up of a succession of generous volumes hides behind the discreet facade of a building located in the historic center of Palma de Mallorca. The main structure of Can Santacilia, dating back to the 17th century, rises on remains from the 12th and then incorporates an adjacent building along with later extensions from the 18th century.

The intervention by the architecture firm OHLAB brings order to this complex layering with the stated ambition of filling the gap between the original architectural fabric and its upgrade to the needs of the 21st century. It is in this interstice that OHLAB glimpses a respectful but not historicized possibility for update: as the firm itself states, “the renovation project takes advantage of the complexity of the existing building as a potential to generate unexpected spaces where each dwelling is totally different”.

Can Santacilia, OHLAB. Photo José Hevia

The 3300 square meters are divided into 15 apartments, related by a common courtyard and a wooden walkway that, with the sinuosity of a ribbon, creeps and connects public and private spaces. If the choice to respect pre-existing materials, coverings and decorations is in line with the wish to ensure historical continuity, the intuition to redefine the interiors with sartorial insights not necessarily related to the context – as for the inclusion of sculptural spiral staircases, mirrored volumes, monochromatic marble bathrooms – enhances the personality of each residence. The result is an apt anti-clone strategy, that succeeds to get rid of the cut-and-paste effect unfortunately common to many rehabilitation projects.

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