A house within a house: Historic Sant Cugat’s hidden gem
Creating a comfortable family home that effectively deals with site restrictions and a sensitive cultural and historical context - while remaining innovative and aesthetically consistent - is a challenge for any architect. And yet, Barcelona-based Josep Ferrando’s latest house in Spain’s Sant-Cugat - a Catalan town known for its rich cultural heritage - does just that.
Casa Sant-Cugat is a hidden gem within a historical hub. The architect kept the existing street façade and it is only when entering the house that the contrast between old and new becomes visible. With this project, construction and preservation issues were present from the word go, and it seemed that a constant battle between finding structural solutions and creating a beautiful home would be inevitable. The house’s external façade and roof were listed, so no changes were possible there. At the same time, the building had to be less than five metres wide and had to deal with a complex topography, as the site was constrained between two streets with a considerable level difference.
The solution is found within the house’s clever internal arrangement. A new structure made from concrete blocks was built inside the original historical one, fitted between the neighbouring houses’ walls. Three distinct volumes were created within; one acts as a storage space, another is dedicated to circulation and the third hosts all the primary rooms. The architect used a Raumplan model internally - this is a layout method that works with individual rooms, instead of open plan spaces, and creates a balance of discreet and dynamic areas in the house. Interiors spread across four levels. A void runs through each floor.
Laminated wooden panels and the L-shaped metal profiles holding them define the interior. The wood is left exposed throughout the house creating a warm and comfortable environment. The height difference between the floors generates views across levels and allows light to penetrate everywhere. The void that runs through the upper levels helps with that, while also acting as the house’s heart and main public area.