In the heart of El Cabanyal, Valencia’s charming fishing district, Viruta Lab, a renowned Spanish interior studio, has breathed new life into a small house. With a nod to its maritime surroundings, they have adorned the space with elegant blue-and-white geometric tiles, creating a subtle yet captivating nautical ambiance. Originally owned by the current owner’s grandparents, this humble two-story building, built in 1946, had long been forgotten, until now.
Viruta Lab‘s extensive experience in architectural heritage conservation has played a crucial role in their respectful intervention in this house. The studio has carefully designed the floor plan to align with the typical geometry of the Cabanyal neighborhood. This two-story house features a modest façade and a vertical communication area at the back, adjacent to a charming courtyard. To preserve the house’s original charm, the studio has maintained the color of the façade and the ornamental distribution, including the openings and the main staircase, in accordance with the architectural legacy of that era.
During the renovation process, the entire house was stripped down, revealing the beautiful original bricks, while the existing moldings were meticulously repaired to add height and evoke a sense of nostalgia in the interior design. The main floor of the house is designed with open-concept day areas, seamlessly connecting the entrance to the backyard. This not only creates captivating perspectives and enhances geometric perceptions but also allows for ample cross ventilation and abundant natural light. Additionally, a large wooden box serves as a structural element, cleverly concealing the toilet within its confines.
On the upper level, Viruta Lab has ingeniously designed two bedrooms that share a central core. The highlight of this space is the complete closed toilet, cleverly shaped like a wooden box, with an outdoor sink area that serves as an island and adds a touch of uniqueness. This bathroom creates a dual circulation flow, which is beautifully filtered by the restoration of the old glass and wood doors.
The materialization of the house follows a clear vision: to reinterpret the original interior design and adapt it to modern needs. As a result, the original brick walls have been preserved in the party walls, creating a striking contrast with the two-color blue and off-white mosaic carpet in a checkerboard pattern that adorns the floors and walls. This mosaic design is a characteristic feature of the Cabanyal façades, which have been adorned with this geometric-shaped ceramic material since 1875. Even today, it remains a beloved symbol of the neighborhood, adding a hypnotic optical effect that elevates the overall ambiance of the space.
The staircase takes center stage in this design, serving as a meeting point between the past, present, and future. The original one-piece granite steps have been carefully preserved, while the landing is adorned with the original black terrazzo with white grain. As you ascend the staircase, you are greeted by the new checkerboard floor introduced by Viruta Lab, seamlessly blending the old and the new in a harmonious fusion.
The interior woodwork underwent a transformation prior to demolition. Both the entrance door and the doors leading to the rooms were carefully treated, stripped, and polished. The remaining woodwork was skillfully crafted to create the structures for the bathrooms. Inside these bathrooms, a beautiful two-color mosaic tile was used to seamlessly blend the interior design of the house, while the esparto grass ceiling added a unique touch to the personal hygiene area, finished with microcement. Furthermore, the house boasts a rooftop area that serves as a perfect spot for relaxation and leisure. The roof has been made waterproof with traditional small-format clay tiles, known as Catalan tiles, arranged in an eye-catching staggered pattern. On this rooftop, a charming wooden gazebo has been placed, providing an ideal spot to admire the enchanting moonlit nights of Valencia.
The house has preserved its original source of natural light since its conception in 1946. Thanks to its heritage protection, Viruta Lab has respected the existing openings that allow the Mediterranean light, reminiscent of Sorolla’s paintings, to flood the interior. Additionally, the backyard generously illuminates the kitchen through its large opening, creating a pleasant ambiance. On the upper floor, a striking glazed veranda extends from the facade, capturing the sun’s rays from dawn and serving as a conduit for refreshing sea breezes and the scent of the sea. To ensure a well-lit atmosphere during the night, Viruta Lab has carefully designed an artificial lighting project. Each room is equipped with wall lamps that provide precise and focused illumination. Furthermore, a unique lamp with a 360º rotating disk has been introduced to accentuate the textures of the bricks, moldings, and porcelain tiles.
In terms of furniture, Viruta Lab has custom-designed pieces to complement the intricate interior design of this compact space. The studio has harmonized contrasting elements by incorporating three materials: wood stained in the same tone as the rest of the interior carpentry, esparto textile, and green fabric for the seats. The color scheme, with the green furniture and the blue checkerboard mosaic, enhances the traditional colors commonly found in Valencian architecture.