Every bit of architecture has a story to tell, there’s a beautiful story of one such house in Argentina. A house of 70 sq. m remodelled by PALTArq in Rosaria, a province of Santa Fe is an exemplary work fitting the criteria of a studio apartment. The existing structure is a part of a group of houses built in 1921. This structure belongs to the typology seen repetitively in the city and is also called an ‘apartment house.’ This idea originated in the 1920s as a response to the workers’ housing problem. It was characterized by the succession of identical and contiguous units that are accessed from a shared corridor.
The house was designed by Agostina Bernacchia (lead architect) when she was in her final years of Architecture study. This house has sentimental value for the architect. It was in the family and it holds a special place in her life. The house’s name is a tribute to her ancestors and their home, and the plan was to convert the old home into a multi-level structure.
The planning of the apartment house consisted of a living room, kitchen, toilet, and courtyard. As there were many such apartment houses planned in a cluster their design had a few commonalities that sets them apart from the rest. The row of homes has a feature that captures the essence of Rosaria homes: each has a courtyard leading to two 4×4 rooms, the kitchen and bathroom. As the building had aged for over 8 decades, the condition of the unit had deteriorated and made it inhabitable. The architect needed the house to cater to the family’s current needs: a house/studio. Hence, the plan was to create designated spaces within the 52 square meters of existing space.
The previous design had solid walls that gave the impression that, there were small spaces. The modified plan lacks a visual obstruction because there are few solid walls.
The plan has more windows and openings than the old plan, the activities are well-planned and executed. The design of the house shifts from an old house apartment to a modern-day studio/house. To cater to the requirements and to keep intact the original roof, a mezzanine floor is introduced in the existing volume. The mezzanine adds so much contrast to the existing space, giving the space visual connectivity on both levels, a habitable height, good light, and a connection with natural vegetation. The mezzanine provides the area with a new character because it allows people to see all three levels from the same vantage point.
The plan has 3 different levels:
- Living area.
The rooms are arranged on an east-west circulation axis that connects the entrance doors and provides uninterrupted access to the various rooms.
Given the space, there is a scope of multiple activities taking place at the same time. These levels are connected by fixed steps that define the activity movement around the space. A fixed-equipment system exemplifies the various levels and offers a range of purposes. It consists of a ladder, desk, storage area, sofa, and support table. To provide a direct connection between the patio, the vegetation, the natural light, and each area of the home, operations of lintels and demolition in the load-bearing walls of the original construction are implemented.
The mezzanine is adequately built to enable proper sunlight on the work table and to serve as a space where a person can sit with their legs free and have a cup of coffee.
The original area of 52 sq. m was increased by 18 sq. m. due to the corresponding mezzanine and the corridor that was a part of the patio connecting the kitchen and bathroom. These few changes in the existing volume have increased the space and resulted in a house/studio of 70 sq. m.
The old plan consisted of- Two rooms, a kitchen, a toilet, and a patio. The users’ needs were met by this plan when it was created many years ago, but today’s expectations and needs are much different and more sophisticated.
The plan’s modifications result in a modern area that bridges the past and present. The roof has timber rafters and beams, on which lay a thermally insulated roof. To support the mezzanine, metal I-sections and wooden beams are used and they are cladded by wooden flooring.
The material palette used for the interiors is of earthy tones. The wooden flooring and the textured brown wall give a cosy and warm vibe. The white furniture and the black metal profiles are complementing the shades of brown.
As it was a personal project the economic resources at that given time were limited, making headway for innovative ideas to incorporate into that volume. Recycling the pre-existing materials and proceeding with the project based on the availability of the materials were a few intelligent choices that defined this house into what it is today. The focus was to maintain the original roof’s structure because it has thermal qualities, which would avoid the exposure of the house elements to the construction process. This resulted in excavating a slope that would provide the desired height to incorporate a mezzanine within the existing volume.
There is a drastic change in the planning and aesthetics of the house. This house differs from other houses due to careful planning and the use of few but high-quality materials. The place is full of natural light and greens that add more to the essence of the house.
Yellow evokes a happy emotion, one that is playful and full of energy, this narrow passage is lit to a certain extent just because of the colour. The inclusion of small details has defined the house in so many different ways.
The new inculcated ideas and personal niches have turned a house into a home, an abode to create memories. This project is an excellent example showcasing that one does not require big, large spaces to design something out of the ordinary. The spatial quality increases the moment when there is ample sunlight, this feature makes a space breathable. The attention to detail has played an important role, details like having niches for plants in the windows, putting up a mirror in the living area to create an illusion of a bigger space, and lights falling on the textures of the wall, everything has contributed to make one humble and beautiful home.
To check out the aesthetics of the house, check out their video: https://vimeo.com/743504172
Silva, V. (2022) Antonio House / Paltarq, ArchDaily. ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/988893/antonio-house-paltarq?ad_medium=gallery (Accessed: November 29, 2022).
Antonio- Vivienda / estudio: Paltarq (no date) Archello. Available at: https://archello.com/es/project/antonio-vivienda-estudio (Accessed: November 29, 2022).