Less than a decade after refurbishing their home in Spain’s historic Cruïlles village in Girona, private clients asked Barcelona-based Majoral Tissino Architects to extend it, after purchasing a property right next door. The brief remained a bit unusual as the current home already contained a residence’s requirements, including a kitchen, dining, bedrooms and living room. The inhabitants sought to include a broader, more expansive living room, a studio connected into a courtyard, a generous bathroom as well as a new bedroom on a suspended mezzanine.
The new structure’s construction and aesthetic couldn’t be farther than their existing property, which posed as a challenge to the Spanish architects, since they had to merge the two as one cohesive being. Abandoned more than 40 years ago, its ground floor used to be a stable for animals and its upper floor branching out into four humble rooms. It also came built with stone load-bearing walls and a tiled gable roof, standing at the junction of two consolidated streets of the historic urban core of the village, along with a vaulted, semi-buried ground floor. Majoral Tissino Architects were to carry out the renovation of the same, along with rearranging and connecting the two volumes, according to the client’s vision and requirements.
“The main concept was the conservation and revaluation of both the morphology of the existing house and its material qualities, as well as studying the new one, to carry out the extension. Intervening with a stone vault built 200 years ago is quite uncommon and essentially, delicate at its core, at least for us, so it ended up essaying as the protagonist of the project. Undoubtedly, the most interesting element is the great vaulted space on the ground floor,” shares Majoral Tissino Architects.
Thus ensued an intriguing, beguiling and melange driven interior design for Cruïlles 2, emerging as a spatial collage of elements, walls, textures, spaces and materials. The refurbishment linked both houses on the ground floor, shifting the existing bathroom and creating a connection that allows one to reach the large vaulted hall upon entry, the heart of the residential design. A concrete topography serves as circulation as well, to reach the level of the new entrance and simultaneously, reach different platforms of the broad living room, including the lounge space, chimney area and the cocktail space. “This topography is broadened diagonally to produce a perspective cone, expressed in the vault’s unique finish, opening towards the stair cluster allowing us to access the upper floor,” shares the team.
Prior to the refurbishment, the hall was illuminated by small twin windows facing north – it has now been fitted with a massive one at its west side to increase the amount of natural light streaming in. Another large window lighting up the vertical communication core acts as the backdrop for the hall. The light pooling into the patio is also channelled into the residential architecture through a sizeable embrasure that connects both houses. The humblest and darkest spaces of the new property now stand transformed as a spectacular, light-filled arena, while the floor above now hosts the studio that spills into a courtyard with a suspended mezzanine. The new additions bear no direct resemblance to the sequence of the former rooms that quartered the space, covered with the gable roof of the original construction.
Only six materials were employed for the refurbishment – the stone of the original construction, concrete on the topography of the ground floor, metal for structural elements and linings and to contrast lightly with the other two, wood for the roof, panelling and furniture and to add a tinge of warmth to the stretching greyness of the interiors, followed by traditional lime mortar on some parts of the walls that injects texture. The colour palette remains on the muted side, owing to the choice of materials and their mostly raw treatment, with a few pops of bright colours in the form of couches and lamps.
“To establish a soft yet sturdy chromatic relationship with the first refurbishment, the same tone of green has been used in some of the panelling while the painted ceiling follows up with white. There was no underlying inspiration but a slow work of trials (and errors) to find the right materials, hues and geometries to enhance the privileged context we found,” explains Mercè Majoral Folch, co-founder of Majoral Tissino Architects.
Although the extension enjoys its own entrance, the natural way to access it is through the original dwelling itself, which creates a comprehensive path that traverses and unites the two seamlessly. From the ground floor, crossing a narrow corridor that hides behind the metal cladding on the left of the newly installed, luxurious bath, the large vaulted room spanning the entire width of the building reveals itself in full theatrical fashion, with choreographed sunlight streaming in, lighting up the curated furniture and accents. “The concrete topography organises the sequence of spaces, integrating them with the transversal circulation,” the architects elaborate. The different levels, steps and platforms form the large sofa and the cocktail area with the arch-shaped concrete fireplace for cosy company, divided into various zones by a cast-concrete construction. Here, the sunken floor contains a U-shaped seating area, sitting faintly below the main floor and facing a plinth with a fixed flat screen.
The ascending path leads to the core of vertical communication of the residential architecture, with an arched staircase as a primal element. The picturesque studio takes residence on the upper floor, with a tranquil courtyard at the back. To finish Cruïlles 2’s tour, a hidden staircase behind the oak wardrobe becomes a pathway, ala the one in the much-beloved novel by CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe leading to the fantastical land of Narnia, spilling into the suspended mezzanine that partly covers the studio.
Majoral Tissino Architects also created a roomy courtyard on the first floor, opening up the east-facing elevation apart from providing an exterior space to the newly added studio space. “The sound of a fountain feeding a thin sheet of water adds to the soundtrack to summer readings,” says Andrea Tissino, the co-founder of the Spanish firm, painting the cosy setting of Cruïlles 2. “To ‘liberate’ this level, the bedroom has been placed on a mezzanine. From the highest level of the house, one can finally gaze at the Emporda’s sweet landscape with the Montgrí mountains on the background and Cruïlles emblematic tower,” he adds.
Name: Renovation of a town house, Cruïlles 1 extension
Location: Cruïlles, Girona, Spain
Built surface (extension): 192,35 sqm + 34,30 sqm courtyard
Architecture and Design: Majoral Tissino Architects