In this 1862 building in Bilbao's Casco Viejo, all the windows face an interior patio or the back of the building. A house without views (to the street) in which, however, they are not missed.
A young mother with two children decides to move next to the church of San Nicolás, to a house with no views in the historic center of Bilbao. It seems like the beginning of a joke, or a story, but it is the starting point of one of BABELstudio's latest projects. A home where all the windows face either the interior courtyard on which the building is configured, or the rear of it. A problem, more common than we would like, whose solution lies within.
The creators of the black farmhouse on the slopes of the Urkiola Natural Park, Michael Schmidt, Andrea García and Andrea Emmanuel, have once again found the answer in the most primary nature of architecture. “You don't have to force things,” says García. The solution to a handicap of such magnitude, against which you cannot fight, is to focus on the present, “on what you do have”. A lesson also applicable to life.
Arriving at the place, the architects came across an excessively compartmentalized floor with two heights, one main and another corresponding to the storage room on the lower deck. You had to pick up the hammer. The first thing was to undo the original plan and unify the project in a large white room with high ceilings that caught the light and amplified it. “By throwing everything down we were able to raise the roof. The framework of wooden beams that we have managed to rescue is what really gives personality to the whole”. In addition to the original layout and lack of exterior landscaping, the ground was also not properly leveled. “There was a 30 centimeter difference from one end of the house to the other. Crazy".
Next was reconfiguring the rooms to create a flow of movement around the central interior courtyard. Like a planet in whose orbit the family could comfortably move. “And almost no doors!” García tells us. Nothing that can hinder the daily hustle and bustle. "We've pushed the master bedroom out of the way and moved the staircase to a position that doesn't compromise the space." In this way, on the first floor we find the kitchen, the living room, the children's room, the master bedroom, the bathroom and the study, giving the second floor the role of expanding the area dedicated to children's leisure, as well as as to house a third room and a work area.
The palette of colors and materials to take into account in complicated homes – such as a house with no views, a small flat or a peculiar (and insurmountable) distribution – must be "clear and simple", say BABELstudio, with soft tones They don't have much of a visual impact. “The children's area is the only one in which we have introduced touches of color, but in the rest, importance has been given to the original structure. We wanted to let the building speak”.
Also from Tokyo Story is the main table in the dining room. The chairs are restored from French markets.
In the upper part of the living room, a small circular window connects the loft with the rest of the house.
A second staircase connects the children's room with the upper floor.