Casa Bures, Barcelona: transformation and conservation
The transformation of a historical and listed 19th Century building of Barcelona into 26 exclusive residences of the 21st Century with high-quality common areas, while preserving its original rich heritage. Interior design project by Estudio VILABLANCH + TDB Arquitectura.
Casa Burés was built between 1900 and 1905 by the Catalan architect Francesc Berenguer i Mestres, a close collaborator of Antoni Gaudí. The building was named after its first owner, Francesc Burés, a businessman with one of Spain's most successful textile companies.
The building has 7.700 square meters distributed over six floors and is listed since 1979, enjoying the highest protection category as cultural heritage. The building was nearly abandoned for some years and some original elements were vandalized.
After three years of a careful restoration work by the best artisans, Casa Burés has emerged as one of the most representative Modernist-style buildings in Barcelona. The modernist architectural and interior original elements were respected and restored because of both regulatory requirements and a high sensibility of all the stakeholders: developer, city authorities, project team, and the artisans and restoration experts involved in the works.
The interior design project had two goals: to recover and highlight the building's original decorative elements, and to adapt the housing to contemporary regulatory and functional needs in terms of distribution, technology, safety, accessibility, comfort and community.
There was a key and strict strategy: all the original architectural and decorative existing elements were restored, while new materials were added when needed. The new materials should not compete nor imitate the original ones.
The team defined three interior design concepts for this residential building matching the intrinsic qualities of each existing space: three lofts and the basement common areas recovered their original industrial character; two palatial residences were carefully restored respecting the existing modernist elements, and 21 flats were conceived as contemporary residences with rich original elements. The conceptualization included design and definition of materials and finishes(pavements, coatings, colors, kitchens, bathrooms, doors, lighting project, furniture, etc).
Lofts and common areas
The ground floor and the basement were originally used for Burés textile industry. They did not have a modernist decoration, but a strong industrial personality. The new interior concept recovered this industrial character: big open spaces with high ceilings, concrete floors, iron columns and old brick walls were left uncovered, kitchens and furniture that strengthen the industrial character. The ground floor was transformed into three lofts and the basement into amenity areas for community use (a swimming pool, a spa, a gym, a cellar, an open kitchen, a terrace, spaces for social events), recovering their original industrial aesthetics.
The original Burés palacelike residence, located on the main floor, was split into two 500 square meters magnificent flats. Being the richest floor in terms of decorative modernist elements, all of them were carefully restored into the noblest flats (mosaics and marquetry in pavements, stained-glass windows, frescoed walls and ceilings, wooden decorative elements, ceilings with reliefs) The original elements were restored, while new materials were added when needed. The new materials and furniture pieces were equally refined but silent, not very ornate, light and with colors in harmony with the space, in order to highlight the valuable historic elements and not compete neither imitate them, facilitating a silent integration in the space.
Apartments & Attics
Flats located in the upper floors, originally conceived for rent, were transformed into 16 apartments and 5 attics. These 21 residences combine strong original modernist spaces with more contemporary ones. The old elements were found in the spaces located in the crown of the building that faces the façade; these original elements were restored. In the interior areas of the flats, where the original elements didn't exist or couldn’t be preserved, the decision was to incorporate new materials that would allow the contrast between old and new ones: white color and oak wood were added as main elements in order not to compete, but to highlight and contrast the original decorative elements.
Photo credit: Photographer: Jordi Folch