Building design reaches new levels in this apartment where drapes work as walls, transforming volumes to create diffused edges and interesting backgrounds in a modern, minimalist composition.
When you step into the threshold of this ‘L’ shaped Spanish apartment, it’s a bravura of drapes that greets you – lengths of dark brown swathes of textiles fall right from the ceiling till they skirt the floor. The scene awes you, and you pause for a moment musing, ‘maybe we are in the theatre!’ This is not an opera house, but ‘Casa A’ or ‘A’ House, a 289 square metre apartment in Pamplona, remodeled by two Pamplona based design studios, Vaillo & Irigaray and Beguiristain. Here elegance speaks through the swishes of curtains and the solid look of wood is played out in contrasting textures and styles.
As the architects tackled the renovation, they realised that the spaces needed to be opened up and become unrestrained, hence the design team zoned into a simple theme for the transformation – volumes planned on a scale derived from large wood boards measuring fifteen metres in length and thirty centimetres in width. This concept was italicised with the introduction of drapery and wooden boards, obliterating and erasing the background whilst unravelling new contexts and layouts.
The architects redesigned the interior spaces into an open plan, with one space merging into the other; only marked by the functionality of the space and the furniture placed in it. These volumes are etched in simple lines and neutral tones, and when combined with soft furnishings and natural wood, they create a warm and cosy atmosphere.
The rooms are walled with curtains, an element that has the functionality of fixed walls and yet the flexibility of movable screens. The colour palette employed has minimal shades, allowing only the several permutations and combinations of them to make the required statement. Enter any room and blends of whites and browns engulf you in their elegant and chic appearance. The contemporary setting is a classic composition of textile, wenge wood walls and light wooden board flooring – an alluring blend of local beauty and exotic materials.
Vertical surfaces are covered in dark shades while horizontal surfaces are in lighter tones of brown, thereby emphasising the horizontal scale of the rooms and giving the rooms an aura of largesse. The space has been designed as one large volume which transforms into the desired functional space with the help of drapes that seem to play the game of ‘peek-a-boo’, exposing the carefully compartmentalised spaces in only bits and pieces.
These drapes are alternated by wenge wood walls which form the only thick walls in the house and have mostly been used to wall the wet areas. Vertical grains and lines of the boards match the folds of the fabric, giving rise to a compatible act.
In this neutral toning, white as a colour is inserted in between, akin to a caesura, a complete pause in a line of poetry; the colour manifests in the furniture, on the walls and as drapes in some of the living spaces. The graceful play of light and dark tones is augmented by the lighting pattern impressed through both artificial and natural means.
All the light fittings are in white, and the window walls too are draped in similarly hued curtains, linking artificial and natural elements in one thread. The large windows filter in natural light, the rays illustrate details clearly without distracting from the grand scheme of things and only emphasising its depth.
In this design showmanship, along with the play of shadow and light, surface textures and basic shapes alleviate the severity within the walls. Except for the white kitchen devoid of colour, all spaces are balanced equations of textures, colours and linearity. The drapes help diffuse the boundaries, and distort the space continuity, creating exciting chambers.
The architects, Vaillo & Irigaray and Beguiristain teamed to renovate an apartment in a unique style that redefines the modern minimalist approach. The interiors are perfect examples of carefully orchestrated sketches where the final apocopate is given by the controlled and precise use of materials, a balance of textural contrasts, linearity that defines space continuity and drapes which erase the perimeters of rooms. The apartment is an example of architecture rediscovering and reinventing itself.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Iñaki Bergera