So much of modernity has been figuring out what to do with older forms, previous architecture, left behind. In dense European towns, there is no choice but to build on the traditions wrought long ago.
Jacobo García-Germán of Garciagerman Arquitectos designed this refurbishment of a baronial residence in the northern Spanish town of Comillas. The home was once owned by a master builder for Gaudí, built in the 19th century when King Alfonso XII frequented the town, bringing with him a retinue and money from Madrid.
In the refurbishment, the classic Spanish townhouse keeps some of the original embellishments in the concrete emblems, the stone bearing walls, and intricate brick chimneys. Glazed tiles, used in 1884 at the nearby El Capricho Palace then being built by Gaudí, were placed in the original build and have since been restored by García-Germán, referencing the strong tradition of Spanish art nouveau in the area.
The home inverts the standard layout by putting the social areas upstairs, taking advantage of the generous double-height ceilings, which can be guessed at from the exterior with its beautifully adorned wood window frames that look out to the mountains and the sea. The ground floor is for the kitchen and garage, and the second floor for bedrooms, while the third floor is built for interaction, and the top level with skylights is for lounging and contemplation. A standout feature is a skylight over the elegant staircase that streams light in through the home vertically.
In the rear of the house, the exterior palette is toned down with whitewashed walls and subtle windows. The interior palette is also restrained. Upstairs, a gorgeous exposed-beam ceiling is painted a blue-grey that tempers that famous Spanish heat, and darkly stained woods give the whole space a sense of refinement. The combination of lines in the ceiling and in the window also provide texture. The softness of the colours is complicated by the intensity of the lines.
Photography by Imagen Subliminal.