When Catalan architecture firm PMMT embarked on the TR House in Barcelona, it soon became clear that the trapezium-shaped site posed certain challenges.
Not only was its topography vastly uneven, but the fact that it was located within the grounds of an existing historical building introduced stringent urban planning regulations into the mix. However, rather than balk at the task at hand, the architects rose to the occasion to design an inspired and innovative abode for one young family.
Building controls dictated that the new structure had to integrate itself with the verdant landscape surrounding it, while at the same time providing the family with all of the form and function expected of their home. The result is a striking yet contextually sympathetic cube, partially wrapped in a green vitrified ceramic skin that camouflages the building with its lush locale.
In order to maintain the family’s privacy – as well as preserve the views enjoyed by the original 19th-century domicile, occupied by the family’s parents – TR House was built across three levels into a depression in the land, largely below street level. Inside, the home is organised around a central glazed courtyard through which light pours in, offering a zen-like sense of space and an inventive interplay of areas.
The Japanese-inspired aesthetic continues throughout the generous, open-plan communal areas on the ground floor, with contemporary light-wood flooring, room dividers and pared-back appointments that inspire a connection with the visual environment.
Vertical chestnut boards clad the majority of the facade, with strategically placed glass openings that afford views and light without sacrificing privacy. The eye is drawn, however, to the dramatic cascade of tiles that envelop the structure, playing homage to the Catalan tradition of incorporating glazed ceramics into architecture, albeit in an entirely original way.
Enmeshed in a stainless steel wire net are vitrified ceramic tiles in four different shades of green, designed to merge with the garden setting throughout the changing of the seasons. Developed by New Jersey-based Shildan Group, the pioneering sunscreen system Fabrik is sustainably produced in factories powered by methane gas and shipped via the ocean to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint. With TR House, PMMT has employed the Fabrik system to relate not only to the building’s immediate environs, but also to unify the overall aesthetic of the home, using it across four planes of often isolated architectural design: the structure’s external surface, the pergola, the curtain walls and the roof.
Outside, the upper and lower levels of the abode are linked by a granite-paved sweeping ramp that leads down from the street, while the sloped garden flows from the home by virtue of a series of wooden platforms made from the same chestnut wood as the building’s façade. It all goes towards creating a family home that’s as ecologically sensitive to its surroundings as it is serene, stylish and ultimately liveable.
A version of this article originally appeared in our January 2017 issue.