In this project, a 44m2 apartment in the Lavapiés neighbourhood of Madrid was refurbished for Niño de Elche, a Spanish musician and performer. We have employed four strategies:
I) Retaining as much of the preexisting elements as possible. All the floor tiles and the original wall tiles of the bathroom and kitchen have been preserved. None of the surface indentations or other irregularities have been hidden. 90% of the kitchen units have been kept; despite these having geometries and finishes that are often considered aesthetically undesirable according to contemporary hegemonic imaginaries, with imitation wood finishes, neo-Romantic handles and heterogeneous geometries, these were in good condition and perfectly reusable, including the refrigerator. Rather than throwing them out, these pieces were simply refreshed with a coat of paint, thus reducing the amount of rubble and waste generated by the refurbishment. The seemingly ‘ugliest’ part of the apartment – the kitchen – was converted into an objet de désir, a new and surprising sculptural element within the home.
II) Creating a large amount of storage space which would be flexible, low cost, and polyvalent. We constructed a system based on metal racks all around the perimeter of the apartment which support wooden shelves. These are complemented by boxes for vinyl records, brackets for speakers, wall hangers for guitars, and other auxiliary supports designed for this project, as well as a small storage space underneath the bed. Parallel to the shelves there is a rail on which various separate curtains hang, allowing for multiple configurations to hide or reveal the stored objects, and to be able to generate, if so desired, small ‘domestic stages’. The house can work as a figurative, multi-narrative space or as an abstract, apparently ‘mute’ space. The translucency of the curtains redraws the geometry of the original architecture. The storage units also serve as acoustic insulation.
III) Allowing for changes in ambience using a multifaceted system of illumination. Several types of luminaries were created using everyday household objects, such as mop drainers, sieves, funnels and citrus juicers of various different colours. Each unit can be activated independently, much like a string of colour-changing lightbulbs. Amplified in different ways through the gloss and transparency of the silver-coloured material of the curtains, these luminaries generate a variety of interior atmospheres. Apparently mundane household objects create a new, transformable landscape. The home can be a place of solitude, peace and tranquility, or an erotic haven, a social, festive space, and so on.
IV) Enabling different usages through movable furniture. A table on wheels, with legs built from waste wood pieces, serves as a dining table or worktable. The sofa can be rolled from one spot to another and, by reconfiguring its cushions, used as a chaise longue to read on. Placed next to the bed, the two pieces of furniture transform into a social bed, and serve as a soft topography for different bodily positions. A screen can be lowered or raised from the ceiling, turning this topography into a small auditorium to watch video projections, or the living room into a multimedia studio. The whole living room-bedroom is thus a transformable space.
Architecture offers a system of multiple options, and it is the inhabitant who designs their home(s) according to the way they live their day-to-day life. The house is a multi-use platform, a moulting haven.