An ambitious architectural project inspired by the American Case Study Houses of the fifties and sixties, reinterpreting their original functional spirit.
An apartment characterised by unusual lines, right in the centre of Madrid, creatively redesigned by architecture and interior design studio La Reina Obrera. The result is a surprising, atypical project blending very different styles and materials, harmoniously brought together in a concept aimed at creating a home that is cosy and pleasant to be in.
The materials used in the project include the SapienStone Uni Ice countertop that dresses up the kitchen, chosen for the pleasant texture of its matte finish, the purity of its white colour and the technical performance permitting experimentation with innovative forms and solutions.
SapienStone kitchen countertops not only have a bold aesthetic impact but are made with top-of-the-range porcelain guaranteeing the extreme strength required in a place such as the kitchen that is subject to high levels of stress, as well as easy cleaning and hygiene.
To find out more about the project, we interviewed the architects of La Reina Obrera, asking them to tell us about their choice of construction materials and styles and how their search for high quality materials led them to Sapienstone’s Uni Ice countertop.
The project is inspired by the Case Study Houses, but what solutions and elements did you use to give concrete form to this inspiration? How is the project “replicable”?
The Case Study Houses are prototypes of middle-class housing that can be replicated cheaply and easily, exploring new technologies and innovative ways of using materials, but they fit into a specific historical and cultural context which is quite different from our present situation. We’re always attracted by the beautiful aesthetic results of this experimentation and by the process of design, but it’s not easy to find clients who dare to go beyond the standard conception of spaces in the home.
In the majority of of our projects, nothing is really "replicable" because every single home is special, adapted to suit the particular features of the building and the people who live in it. In this case, if there were another house with similar features and proportions, the "replicable" elements might be the kitchen and the vinyl shelf. Both of these have a modular volume, in which the metal structures and wooden furnishings are combined and harmonised. They’re all custom made, but as they are modular, they can be adapted to another house by adding or removing modules.
The fact is that, by placing these absolutely personal objects in such a special house, what happened in the Case Study Houses will almost certainly happen here: the initial idea was to create replicable projects, but none of them ended up being repeated in another project.
Moreover, this is a fully automated house. This may be the most experimental point in terms of projects developed in the contemporary area. If they had had this possibility in the United States in the fifties and sixties, they would definitely have put it into practice in these experimental houses.
The project combines different styles (contemporary, vintage) and materials (simple surfaces, natural materials such as wood, bold colours). How are these different factors combined?
The architectural concept is modern, but no more modern than that of the Case Study Houses. We believe that what has happened between then and now in architecture is that we have lost our way, to some degree, coming only in the end to the goal of that kind of research: clearly separated day and night areas, open spaces, fluid circulation, order, simple, clear spatial geometry, clean volumes.
The furnishings are a mixture of contemporary items such as the custom-made sofa built for the irregularly shaped corner in the walls or the stools at the kitchen counter, designed by Macarrón Furniture, while the rest is framed in mid-century vintage style, such as dining table and chairs, the light fixtures or the decorative objects. In any case, we’re looking for items of simple design, which will not be in competition with the architecture but integrated into it.
As for the materials and colours, contrasts between wood and orange are used to add warmth and personality to the house. In the day area, for example, wood appears in the covering of the "cube" and in the furnishings, in contrast with the simplicity of the grey micro-cement floor and the black lacquered steel. In the night area, wood appears in the flooring and at the head of the bed.
All the materials are harmoniously integrated, choosing only a few materials and making strategic use of them to avoid saturating the space.
The approach to colour was different: the owner proposed orange, while we decided where to apply these brushstrokes of colour and with what intensity, and the client approved our decisions.
How did SapienStone’s Uni Ice countertop fit into this blend of different styles?
In this case, we were looking for kitchen cabinets in white to blend into the worktop. What we wanted was a pure white without any veins. The simplicity of the countertop is not the only focus of the kitchen, but is perfectly integrated into the design of the whole.
SapienStone’s Uni Ice countertop fits into one of the most distinctive parts of the project: the kitchen. How did the countertop affect the implementation of the idea?
Finding this material was like finding the missing piece of the puzzle. Once we had chosen the finish and determined its technical properties, we realised we could make the kitchen exactly the way we had planned it. In this case we decided to use a 5 cm thicker countertop to visually align it with the height of the handles on the drawers below it.
How did you come to choose SapienStone? What struck you about this product?
We chose it for the purity of the white, without veins, without grain. The tactile qualities of its finish struck us as well, because we were looking for a matte surface. What surprised us the most was the fact that the union between different slabs is practically invisible. Its technical properties permitted perfect integration of a glass ceramic countertop and a pull-out countertop hood with impeccable results.
PH: Carla Capdevila.
Location: barrio Chamberí (Madrid).
Architecture and interior design: La Reina Obrera.
If you need any information please contact us using the form below.