Five spaces in one. Five rooms of a house that are actually the same and five colors inspired by the environment. It is the idea that has come true in Casa Triana, a house in one of the most historic neighborhoods in Seville and renovated by Studio Noju, led by the architects Antonio Mora and Eduardo Tazón. Yellow albero, green from the Sevillian patios or the blue of traditional local ceramics have penetrated the walls to slip into this apartment of just 60 square meters. They include it under the concept of anti-loft. “The traditional strategy for these old buildings has always been to demolish and open space, but in that repetition, in standardization, something is lost. We wanted to explore. There is a field to be discovered to provide new solutions at this scale of housing, which, moreover, is the only one that our generation can barely afford,” says Tazón, 32.
Mora, 30, studied Architecture in Seville and his partner in Madrid. They met there in 2014 and a year later they undertook a professional trip to the United States. Tazón went through the OMA and Diller Scofidio + Renfro studios in New York and her partner worked —in Manhattan— with the Canarian architect Ana María Torres, founder of the AT Architects studio, in the reform and design of apartments, shops and offices. It was a common friend, Fátima Martín, also 30 years old, who wrote to them in 2019 to propose to reform a small apartment that she had acquired in Triana. “After many years in Madrid I moved back to Seville, my city. The rents were high and I decided to buy and make it my own. I have always trusted them and told them to do whatever they wanted,” explains Martín, who works as a dentist at Dos Hermanas.
That blank piece of paper marked the start of the study. “It was the first opportunity to put ourselves to the test as architects and designers on our own”, emphasizes Mora, who began to reflect on creating an open space with more life, with more corners. “We wanted to question how instead of an empty box where anything goes, there could be something different and achieve the perception of different rooms even though in reality it is only one”, adds Tazón. The location of the apartment, inside, in an old Triana residential building a step away from the Guadalquivir River and the Monjas Mínimas Monastery was also a challenge for this team that has proposed to enhance this type of housing. The one that is increasingly inaccessible to young people due to the constant increase in prices and the arrival of holiday apartments.
We wanted to explore. There is a field to discover to give new solutions to this scale of housing that, moreover, is the only one that our generation can barely afford
They approached it by developing a project that contemplated the creation of five different environments —or niches as they call them— encompassed in a single open space. Each place was going to be separated by a color to give each corner its own identity, so that it would be understood as a unique place. They pulled from the Sevillian imaginary to decide the colors. The yellow albero, so typical land in Andalusia, was designated to the dining room. The green, close to the pastel tone and inspired by the Sevillian patios, to the kitchen. The iconic blue of Andalusian tiles allows you to create a double space: a curtain is enough to separate the living room from a temporary guest room, which also has an eight-square-meter rug that fades from blue to white to fall from a niche the other. Finally, lemon yellow decorates the interior of the closet, also separated by a curtain. Each place is also framed with a small section of epoxy painter who finishes framing and differentiating it. The fifth color is white, a reflection of the necessary tranquility in the living room and the bedroom where the owner rests. Beyond, only the bathroom remains, with two entrances for greater privacy.
Everything is supported by the geometric textures provided by the metal ridges, an affordable material commonly used to finish off gabled roofs in industrial buildings. Its saw-shaped undulations here create a play of light and shadow that generate depth in each space. Both the architects and the owner remember the six months of work as a desperate stage, firstly because they were still in New York and secondly because the masons were not used to this type of project. It was a process of multiple video calls and in which they exchanged endless Whatsapp messages, photos and videos with those who overcame the almost 6,000 kilometers that separated them as best they could. Until they got it.
“The most gratifying thing is that when you look at one of the niches you have the sensation of being in a room, and when you change your gaze to another, it seems that you are in a different place. It makes it seem to you that there is a larger space than there really is”, points out Tazón, who points out the importance of optimizing space in homes with reduced surface area. “Usually the solution was to leave them open, create a white box and have the furniture take care of delimiting the spaces. In this case, it is architecture that provides the solution to differentiate the rooms”, he adds, while stressing that “each scale has its challenge”. This is the case of small flats like this one, the ones that are barely accessible to her generation and where Fátima Martín has lived for a year now. “I was scared once, but I’m glad I didn’t say no to their proposals. Now I love it, I already feel it is mine, ”says the Sevillian, who has made her home the epicenter of her group of friends, shocked every time they cross her door.
Casa Triana is the initial project of Noju Studio, but not the only one. The team is already working on what they believe may be their great letter of introduction: a 400-square-meter duplex in the Torres Blancas building in Madrid, an iconic building signed by the architect Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza. In the Madrid capital they are also focused on the reform of two floors in the neighborhoods of Salamanca and Entrevías. The other half of their work is located in Seville, where they are reforming some offices in the surroundings of the Santa Justa AVE station —in the same place that they have already carried out another similar project— and another reform of a flat with about 60 meters Of surface. They also have a project for a country house in the municipality of Jabugo, in the Sierra de Aracena (Huelva). “We want to work on all possible scales, that’s where our name comes from, Noju, which is an abbreviation of the English words Not Just. We intend not to pigeonhole ourselves and treat different styles, scales, budgets or types of clients. And also carry out interior design or product design”, concludes the young couple of architects.