In Granollers, Spain—a small city of 60,000 near Barcelona—an architectural Narnia is hidden down a quiet residential street. But this is no mere wardrobe: When the wooden door in a historic stone façade is opened, what is revealed is an angularly modern world of brick structures, terraces, and walled gardens.
The house is the creation of H Arquitectes, a firm that has been practicing in Barcelona since 1999. The team helped their clients select the site in the historic town center, and created what partner Roger Tudó Galí calls “a sequence of spaces, where you can’t always tell what is inside and what is outside.”
The strictures on the site were two-fold: one, the architects had to keep the 21-foot-wide historic façade to comply with local guidelines (but could demolish the rest of the dilapidated structure), and two, they could not build out the entirety of the site, which stretches all the way from a pedestrian throughway at the front to a vehicular street behind. This was just fine for the clients, who wanted both privacy and more public entertaining options for guests.
Behind the historic façade, an enclosed terrace with a retractable glass roof provides a year-round threshold to a three-story brick volume that houses living, dining, and family rooms, as well as four bedrooms. On the other side of this volume, in the middle of site, is a walled garden with a covered seating area. “We tried to design an outdoor room where you still feel surrounded by the walls,” Galí says.
At the rear of the garden is another brick structure, with a large kitchen and dining area for entertaining, as well as a basement guest suite. A second terrace, which also serves as the garage, lies beyond, and opens up to the vehicular street.
But the craft here isn’t simply in the processional sequence from front to back. The formal simplicity of the brick volumes belies the complexities of their construction. “We produced different types of bricks,” Galí says, explaining that the heaviest ones are laid at the base of the structures, and that they become lighter with each level. This was done to minimize the structural load. Steel lintels allow for large window openings in the masonry walls. These openings are covered with oversized steel shutters affixed to the façades with custom steel frames.
The house nods to context in material (masonry) and scale (modest), so that it does not feel out of place in historic Granollers. But within is an alternate world, distinctly modern and verdant, and a retreat from the rigors of daily life.
Project: House 1014, Granollers, Spain
Architect: H Arquitectes, Barcelona . David Lorente Ibáñez, Josep Ricart Ulldemolins, Xavier Ros Majó, Roger Tudó Galí (partners); Blai Cabrero Bosch, Montse Fornés Guàrdia (architects); Carla Piñol Moreno (quantity surveyor)
Interior Design: Fátima Vilaseca
Quantity Surveyor: Ramon Anton Brossa
Structural Engineer: DSM Arquitectes
Installations: Igetech; Àbac Enginyers
Landscape: Anna Esteve
Size: 673 square meters (7,244 square feet)