Personal Places


Madrid, Spain NOMOS

practical info

Studio: NOMOS (Madrid, Spain)
Location: Madrid, Spain
Video credits: NOMOS
Image credits: Luis Asín

visual material

general aspects

A former printshop. 227 square meters, 34 linear meters of facade, 10 meters deep. A 5 x 5 meters grid of concrete pillars and downpipes attached to the central pillars.

« La Nave » is the transformation of an industrial space into a place for life, which takes place as a continuous sequence, with very little difference between work and family leisure. It is the result of a creative process that focuses on the use of local materials and construction systems linked to crafts.

The layout design strategy starts with the search for the optimal location of the technified spaces. The wet areas need to reach the downpipes but they want to be located at the back of the space. They rotate 45 degrees.

The diagonal partitions are built with glazed bricks, in two colors, white and cobalt blue, shaping the perimeter of bathrooms and kitchens. The bricks' hidden faces are exposed in the surrounding spaces, qualifying the living room, the office and the bedrooms. The bricks are rotated and combined generating plinths, shelves, and friezes. In combination with large tongue-and-groove ceramic boards, they define niches and shelves.

The perpendicular partitions are built with a pine framework and MDF panels.

The vertical development of the walls seeks to articulate their contact with the structure, by means of a crown of triangular MDF boards, which makes the recycled cotton acoustic insulation visible, softening the relationship with the existing structure.

The bedrooms are detached from the facade, whose existing yellow painted metal carpentry is preserved, giving birth to an added space, the winter garden, which is at the same time a programmatic gift, an alternative circulation and a climate buffer. This space participates in the activity of the apartment, it shapes its sensory experience and gives meaning to its typological complexity, nuancing and graduating the intimacy and light density of the rooms it protects.

about the category

«La Nave» is a project that works on the transformation of an old printing house into an apartment. In our understanding, the reallocation of an industrial space reflecting an outdated form of economy is a current topic. How to appropriate spaces which are no longer used for the purposes which gave them birth as spatial responses to specific functions?

In our project, the data - constructive and other - of the industrial space have been used to develop an "other" apartment, with spaces that a new residential building could not offer. La Nave's plan thus escapes any typological definition: it results from the search for new spatialities required by existing constraints. The new function having to adapt to the original structure, a dialectical relationship is established between the existing and the new: a relationship where one is present in the other which gives “thickness”to the new home.

The potential conflict between the given spaces and the desired functions also allowed the discovery of non-expected spaces: this is what we like to call "found spaces", in reference to Kurt Schwitters found objects. La Nave does not respond to a "regular" way of living. To live there, you have to invent a way of living, letting yourself be surprised by the space structure and the created atmosphere.

Finally, this project is an example of programmatic and material sustainability and economy of means within the city. The home itself is a laboratory of solutions of constructive honesty: it is an exercise of iteration around the brick element. We like to remember Sverre Fehn words: "To build in brick is an experience for me, since each course has its beauty. You would like to design, but in the end it is the brick that decides."