This Modern Madrid Apartment Redefines Compact Design with a Timeless Functional Aesthetic

Functional interior compartments, interior glass facades and a refined selection of pinewood and greenery – you’re inside Madrid-based architects Zooco Estudio’s new project: J House. Though it has all the hallmarks of a bespoke contemporary design, this is not your average central city apartment refurb – J House is a house inside a house.

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Looking to make the most out of the space, Zooco Estudio stratified ten volumes within the space and designed each according to their functions. The result was a warm, minimal and functional home within a limited space defined by wooden pillars and an original Catalan vault system.

Coffee in hand, we sat down for a chat with the Zooco team to hear how, exactly, one goes about building a house inside a house, and what made the process not-so-straightforward.

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Project: J House
Year completed: 2018
Construction: Nimbo Proyectos S.L
Photographs: Imagen Subliminal

THE PLUS: What was your approach to this project? How did you feel when you initially saw the space?
Zooco Estudio:
The project consisted of building a house inside of a house, which means that it is more similar to the process of building a single-family house than an interior rehabilitation. This is because it has its own structure, enclosures and installations.

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TP: How did you approach maximising the light in the space?
ZE:
The light was maximised in the spaces by the opacity of the glass that encloses the in-between structure space. Most of them are transparent, but some are turned translucent or opaque depending on the privacy necessity. Added to the condition that the living area is an open space that includes the first floor above the sub-structure, this is crucial for the light at the bottom of the house.

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TP: You used a lot of light-toned wood with a distinctive natural touch. What type of wood is it and why did you choose it?
ZE:
The pinewood is used for the renovation following the original wood floors of the house.

TP: Those structural wooden beams add a lovely touch. Are they original? What else did you keep from the original space and why?
ZE:
Yes, the wood structure was original. It is a traditional structure system from Madrid and adds personality and warmth to the space. The flat had itself very valuable traditional Spanish architecture elements as the Catalan vault horizontal structure, the clinker brick wall or the wood structure. This series of elements should take prominence in the renovation. The project was built following the existing materiality and its tones, and the needs of the client. The warmth is a basic issue for dwelling projects as minimalism helps to feel them more pure, clean and tidy.

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TP: What did the clients make of it all? Were they happy?
ZE:
The needs of the client included the development of different uses and scales offering both intimate and collective spaces. To generate this we decided to create the second hierarchy structure that encloses some space and allows different uses above it. As a result, the client has many different rooms in the space of two. That is how we solved his demands.

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Axonometrical drawing
L01. DISTRIBUCIÓN Y SUP.
L01. DISTRIBUCIÓN Y SUP.
L01. DISTRIBUCIÓN Y SUP.
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