APARTMENT IN BORN

Architect Andrea Serboli and Matteo Colombo for Colombo and Serboli Architecture

Styling and Art Direction CaSA

Photography Roberto Ruiz

Located in the neighbourhood of Born, in the oldest part of Barcelona, this apartment is part of an ancient building which dates back to the 13th century.  The client, a young Italian woman working in the fashion industry, wanted to completely transform the old property into a vibrant, new flat.

The highly compartmented layout originally included three bedrooms; two occupied the street side while a third bedroom was located in the entrance space. The living area and kitchen were positioned in the dark interior of the plot.

The new arrangement completely overturns the original layout. The new configuration restores and enhances the great proportions of the ancient spaces, with 4m high-vaulted ceilings, huge windows and thick walls.

All the previous partitions were demolished, leaving only one thick structural wall around the new bedroom.

The key piece of the project and the only added partition is a thick, bespoke storage unit that divides the entrance from the living area, and converts the hall into a disguised walk-in-wardrobe.

This made-to-measure, built-in storage is thought to highlight the monumental proportions of the recovered spaces. The deep blue, boiserie-like, floor to ceiling cabinetry was designed to meet the client’s request to provide storage for clothing, accessories and sports equipment, as well as other home items.

Lacquered panels conceal direct access to the bedroom from the main entrance through a double door; a secret entry that keeps the room private and independent.

A cut out, light pink, grand doorway over 2.5 metres in height connects the living area to the entrance while hiding closet doors on both sides. In the entryway, light is provided by a minimalistic glass globe, built into the unit, and through another 120cm deep niche that peeks into the living room. This opening matches the opposite living room window that was previously boarded up, now reopened above the dotted bespoke radiator cover.

The airy living and kitchen space benefits from the light of two huge balcony windows, whose original woodwork was restored, to preserve the detailed wooden shutters motifs.

False ceilings were removed to expose the Catalan vaults and wooden beamed ceilings; then painted in white to increase brightness. A 40cm thick bearing wall that now divides the living area from the bedroom and the entrance has been covered with a tactile rough treatment, to enhance its thick presence. As part of this wall, right over the niche, a curl structure detail emerged during construction and has been incorporated within the boiserie panels.

The open kitchen features a rounded peninsula hosting sink and dishwasher, that doubles as an informal eating area. Overhead, three globe pendants with brass details and burgundy cords chromatically match the hood tube. The kitchen cabinets are finished in a warm grey and fitted with vintage brass concave handles.

Both sides of the kitchen lean against a main feature: an arc-shaped, coral-coloured volume that hides a powder room.

Part of the client's requirements was to have a guest bathroom, independent from the master bedroom. The Architects opted to turn the customer’s request into a standalone highlight of the apartment: “A full-height volume would have reduced the feeling of space in the big living room, while using a half-height volume would have transformed its top in a dusty, dark corner. So we opted for an arc shape, that while almost touching the wooden beamed ceilings, it enhances and preserves the full room height”, the designers explain.

The arc motif appears again in the corner of the dashboard, sided by a wall mounted globe lamp, and in the curved edged kitchen island. Both surfaces are made in a pink terrazzo-like quartz finish.