12 Mar 2019 • Living
This refurbished small home is now fit for a man, his best friend and his vegetable garden
In Spain, traditional corrala houses are very fixed in their layout: they’re mostly built as a block of flats connected by access corridors that open up to an interior courtyard. When young casualty doctor Jaime commissioned Husos Arquitectos to refurbish his 46-sq-m corrala, he asked for as much layout flexibility as possible… for him and his dog.
Architects Camilo García and Diego Barajas seized the chance to make this dwelling as custom-fit as possible in a way that few residential projects are. For example: as Jaime has confounding shifts at the emergency ward, his circadian rhythm is in shambles – he recovers from night shifts by taking naps throughout the day. So, instead of focusing on the bedroom as the key area for rest, the duo created a dedicated siesta space in the living room that would be an alternative to the client’s bed. The nap capsule then becomes as a space to receive overnight guests, a prime spot for Netflixing – sliding the door turns it into a projection screen – or a lounge to write medical reports in, as the window offers natural light and a view of the tree-lined street below.
This small 1960s corrala has an east-west orientation, and due to the original layout, most of the cross-ventilation was blocked. That meant that in the intense Madrid summers, both Jaime and his dog Albóndiga would suffer the consequences: as a short-nosed breed, bulldogs are notoriously sensitive to heat. García and Barajas redistributed the spaces and ended up with a large living section that is open both to the east and the west, allowing for better air circulation.
This can be an assemblage of possible new objects of desire for a hypothetical new, sustainable era
Albóndiga has a set of cotton islands, suction-fixed to the floor and thus movable, that double as playthings and dog beds. Along a swath next to the siesta pod that’s about two metres wide, his owner also has a dressing room and storage room. But, most importantly, there’s a vegetable garden in the balcony.
Note that ‘important’ is an understatement here: as dry Madrid suffers from water scarcity, the irrigation for the tomatoes and herbs comes via filtered grey water harvested from the shower; the system also works as a thermal control solution, which eliminated the need for an air conditioner. ‘We aimed to create a microlandscape with the tubes and filters running from the shower to the vegetable garden, allowing the flow of water to be seen in a way that attempts to be didactic,’ explained the architects. ‘It could then be seen as an assemblage of possible new objects of desire for a hypothetical new, sustainable era.’