Lights, greenery, action: designing a Madrid family home's vibrant interiors

Madrid – Light: while arguably the most critical tool of the architect’s trade, it can also be one of the biggest obstacles. Faced with the renovation of a long, narrow duplex house in Madrid, studio Lucas y Hernández-Gil Arquitectos embraced that challenge, skilfully manipulating the building’s envelope to open the family home to the Spanish sun.

Casa A12’s most striking features are its light wells, which take reference from the original domus of ancient Pompeii and Herculaneum. In the design of their homes, Romans organized rooms around a central courtyard. This atrium was considered the centre of the home, and performed the role of a waiting area for visiting relatives and business clients. Above the atrium, a roof aperture – or compluvium – circulated fresh air into the house.

In a similar vein, the designers’ intervention highlights the courtyards of the Mediterranean casa. There are three throughout the Madrid home: two on either end of the ground floor, and one glass-floored greenhouse on the second floor that also doubles as a light well. Situated adjacent to major traffic areas – a study, a living room, a focal bedroom – these verdant spaces bring a sense of the outdoors in.

Colour is an important element of Casa A12, most notably featured in the designers’ Rothko-inspired curved stair. The cobalt-blue-and-peach-pink stair attempts to soften the transition between the two floors; its hues are continued as accent colours throughout the rest of the project. Highlights include a semi-circular, bright salmon bathroom on the second floor. A similar shade of orange is used in the bedroom courtyard: the green of the plants contrasts brightly against the soil – dyed neon orange – and corrugated metal wall panelling.

Coupled with bright white walls, the metallic fixtures reflect the light that seeps in through the courtyards and skylights, extending a sense of natural illumination throughout the vibrant residence.

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