Seaport Influence and Expansive Space

Cometa Architects reconfigured a 56 square metre Barcelona apartment into an enchanting seaport home, overlooking the marina.

Relieving the building from any unnecessary structures, the designers were inspired by minimalist traits; although this was more about creating space and allowing the home to seamlessly connect with its surrounding environment than following any trend.

The Marina Apartment is equipped with exposed installations composed of marine copper piping, complemented by the low bed and seating area that flow smoothly into each other. The open plan space and large windows create an expansive atmosphere where there seems to be very little separating the occupiers from the port just around the corner.

We spoke with Faidra Matziaraki from Cometa Architects to learn more about the design process.

THE PLUS: What was your guiding vision with this project?

Faidra Matziaraki: Our first task is to understand the client’s vision/needs and start putting the puzzle together from there. When we began designing, we stripped out unnecessary elements in the building and we ended up with what is now referred to as a minimalist space.

Our guiding vision was to create a livable space that would connect seamlessly with the port and beach life, which is located a few blocks away. We didn’t want the classic summer mediterrean lifestyle, but a reflection of the real port, its materials such as the concrete decks and the strict and space conscious sailing boat design, almost spartan, very practical but also very romantic.

TP: Can you say a bit more about how the seaport and the surrounding landscape influence the design?

FM: The combination of visible piping, a wooden cabin, round elements and expansive open space makes me feel like we are traveling, in a subtle way. The heavy curtain moves with the wind and the sea breeze enters blissfully inside.

TP: Are you a fan of the minimalist, uninterrupted, open-plan style the clients desired?

FM: We treat every project as unique so we are not fanatics of ‘styles.’ However, ‘open plan’ is a style we often explore, as we have done so here. It works well in the condensed urban Barcelona. The liberation of space allows for more natural light and fresher air – something that sounds simple but is very important to us.

TP: What trends in design or previous projects was the home influenced by?

FM: Carrying on with the port theme, we looked into boat interiors and aesthetics and the emptiness of the port docks. We looked at Shigeru Ban, Curtain Wall House at one point too.

TP: How was the renovation process? Did the amount of available space prove to be a restriction at any point?

FM: We own a small construction company which makes things more straightforward! However it was challenging, every detail had to be designed to effortlessly fit together. We thought about every pipe and every plug from every perspective.

Laying out a reliable energy plan was also difficult as we wanted things to be sustainable. We fitted underfloor cooling and heating that connected with boilers that used a sun collector, and triple glazing in the windows.

TP: How does the chosen colour scheme and layout influence or compliment the general feeling and atmosphere of the building?

FM: Interiorwise, we wanted a serene background that would make the brass and wooden details stand out. The original building is a 70s Barcelona big block and the apartment is the last floor overlooking the city. We created a contemporary apartment in a post contemporary building, which blends pretty well.

TP: Tell us a bit more about the materials selection?

FM: We used microcement, locally-handmade tiles and a very skilled local carpenter inserted custom-made brass faucets from a Barcelona brand. Of course, the kitchen design is completely ours.

TP: What are the biggest challenges you think architects would face in the future or near future?

FM: The biggest challenge for us is the pressure to build smaller, but it is also a blessing. Small is the way to go, we need to maintain small offices; work when we can, collaborate together, renovate, fix, maintain reuse, recreate, multiply.

One massive building does not have the same value anymore, it is better to create 10 smaller ones of a higher quality. Use local markets, industries, and workmanship when building. Choose resources wisely and lay out a good energy plan to help our environment from decaying even quicker.