Snapshot: Barcelona’s ZEST Architecture reconverts an old factory space to hold a modern family home complete with library, study, and miniature concert hall.
When Barcelona’s ZEST Architecture was contracted in 2012 by apartment owners to create a spacious family home, restrictions were pretty minimal: namely, there had to be space allotted for a music room suitable to holding small concerts, as well as separate space for a library, and a study. ZEST took these intellectually and culturally-inclined stipulations and turned out an interior space that’s impressively streamlined in its take on modern design, while going suavely against the grain when it comes to the fashionista “chic” aesthetic popular today.
The building was once a large, vaulted factory--to wit: VERY high ceilings. In light of that interesting interior dynamic, the interior was stripped to make use of the original, natural heights. The owners wanted to do away with all reminiscences of an “apartment” vibe, installing a staircase to unite the upper and lower levels, but otherwise leaving wide open spaces.
With a fascination and deep love for woodwork shared by both the owners and ZEST, it’s no wonder that the feeling to retain a legitimacy to the woodcraft, which mainly takes the form of solid oak. The aforementioned staircase thus becomes an artistic, not a strictly functional, centerpiece on which the tenability of oak’s texture is displayed for sensual pleasure, visual as well as textural.
Elsewhere, heritage becomes a design inspiration; such as in the kitchen and dining room, where Catalan vaults punctuate the insulation infrastructure. The centrality of this space is also a key focus: it branches off to an oak-adorned terrace in one direction, and to an ornate lounge in another.
Believe it or not, the library upstairs has a sleeping nook for guests, as if to playfully highlight the comfort”” of the the written word so lauded by intelligentsia from generations past. Like the rest of the house, oak is the standout material for the library’s furnishings--book shelves, cabinets, and the sort.
Other design miscellany are classically mediterranean, for example with the the walls, inspiration for which comes courtesy of Moroccan stucco from Spain’s cross-ocean southern neighbors; and the Corian wash basins in the bathrooms. The more modern touches show up in the ubiquitous LED lighting and the aerothermal heating system.
It’s charming that the owners and ZEST see eye to eye on a classical, almost aristocratic interpretation of a “family” home, by having such prominent domestic places as a library and a mini concert hall, and the oak adorning each room glistens with sunlight, warmth, and comfort, showing that home is truly where the heart is. It’s such an interesting place in which to insert a dwelling place like this one, but perhaps gigantic urban factories can easily substitute for gigantic rural manors, in our modern age, and it’s a testament to the ZEST name that the interior space bares no resemblance to its prior commercial functions, which is a supposed hallmark of our “industrial chic” contemporaneity.
Photography by Lluis Casals