OHLAB sculpts Can Santacilia from layers of Mallorca’s history
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by Pooja Suresh HollannavarPublished on : Jan 07, 2023
There exists, in a meadow in the Jizera Mountains of Czech Republic, a cabin that has stood strong for 130 years. Despite the fast-changing world outside the said meadow, this particular cabin enjoyed a particular stability of itself and its surroundings. It was, for many moments, a place where time stood still. So when Mjölk Architekti were called upon to renovate the cabin, they understood the importance of preserving the timeless essence of the residential architecture and linking it to the needs of the future. They accomplished this by adding a glass extension at the rear side, housing a sunken living space, thereby leaving the majority of the home undisturbed.
When looking at the home from the front, all one sees is a non-descript cabin. At the rear side, however, a transparent sunken living space and kitchen replace the original shed. The two parts of the home, the distinct past and the futuristic present were deliberately designed to contrast each other. They flow into each other without blending into each other.
The architects were mindful of the history of the home and did a remarkable job of preserving what they could. The original nineteenth-century timber and granite structure along with the thatched roof still stands strong. The architects contrast this by designing an extension with a flat roof and a glass envelope.
This sense of contrast can be felt deeply with the selection of material for the interior design finishes, as well. Glass floors replace parts of the wooden floors that could not withstand the restoration efforts. The ceiling is clad in bronze sheets that lend a tremendous amount of height to the space, while reflecting the nature outside, functioning as an ever-changing art piece.
The old dining area and the new living space on the ground floor are connected by a kitchen with the tiled stove and oven unit acting as the central anchor. The glossy white tiles are a nod to the gleaming brass ceilings, as well as the powder white snow the meadow routinely enjoys. The spacious and modern living room connects to a kitchen with an equally contemporary design. The use of concrete to create the floor, as well as the wrap-around seating lining the glass enclosure, is smart, as it tends to withstand the impact of the elements tracked in, much better than the wood used across the original house. The bathroom on the level uses stone, creating yet another visual and textural impression together.
The upper floor, meant for rest and sleep, is warmer. Accessed by a staircase that passes and is illuminated by the convex skylight, the floor houses four bedrooms. The primary bedroom enjoys a glass wall offering unparalleled views of the meadow. The children’s bedroom is large enough to be a playroom on rough weather days. The other two bedrooms are a subtle play on the ‘classic mountain cabin’ rooms with original furniture and carefully designed modern accessories. Some of the walls of the bedrooms have been painted red, which when combined with the exposed rafters exudes warmth and lends character to the space.
The unusual layout combined with an eclectic selection of building materials used, creates a dynamic and continually altering vibe all throughout the home. In addition to the transformation of the actual home, there was the addition of a new sauna. This sauna was added close to the home and followed the exact same old-meets-new design structure of the cabin. With a glass wall on one side and timber on the remaining three sides, the sauna is a remarkable echo of the main cabin.
The Glass Cabin, appropriately named, is a wonderful example of how contextual design doesn’t necessarily mean designs that blend into their surroundings. In some cases, such as this one, it may involve the use of contrasting materials deployed to impress upon the history of an existing structure.
Name: The Glass Cabin
Location: Polubný, Kořenov, Liberecký kraj, Czech Republic
Site Area: 3364 sqm
Built Up Area: 189 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Architect: Mjölk Architekti
General Contractor: AronHouse
Interiors Supplier: Sollus nábytek
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