Green steel grid embraces the Brick Vault House by Space Popular in Valencia, Spain

The first completed building by the London-based multidisciplinary firm reveals a slender steel grid wrapping white geometric volumes and a brick vaulted ceiling.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Mar 11, 2020

The London-based Space Popular has revealed the photographs of their first built project – a house from the New Santa Barbara suburb in Valencia, Spain. The project, titled Brick Vault House has been designed in collaboration with Spanish architects Estudio Alberto Burgos and Javier Cortina Maruenda.

The 235 sqm house, perched on a sloped site, reveals clusters of white square volumes and a brick vaulted ceiling, wrapped by a slender, green coloured steel framework. Interestingly, the grid extends from the slotted volumes and gives shape to a scaffolding-like structure.

The house is perched atop a slope | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
The house is perched atop a slope Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio

Delving deep into the design of the project, STIR speaks with architects Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg of Space Popular.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

Zohra Khan (ZK): What was the brief introduced to you by the client?

Space Popular (SP): The client (a local developer) wanted a house that was ‘different’, but still fulfilled the usual expectations of a medium-scale detached home. This first house was to serve as a prototype for a larger plot where they plan to develop more in the future. We suggested a grid system with which we could resolve the typical details that would allow them to create different configurations in the following houses, avoiding replication, but still maintaining some level of standardisation.

  • The grid extends from the slotted volumes and gives shape to a scaffolding-like structure | Space Popular | STIRworld
    The grid extends from the slotted volumes and gives shape to a scaffolding-like structure Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio
  • The grid framework defines outdoor leisure spaces | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    The grid framework defines outdoor leisure spaces Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio

ZK: How would you characterise the neighbourhood in which the house is built, and its prevalent architecture?

SP: The house is in a suburb of Valencia, called New Santa Barbara, which is the more affordable neighbour of the established ‘Santa Barbara’ - a suburb of luxury homes. Not sure how to define the style of the neighbourhood or if there even is one. All houses there are quite new and do not follow a particular style.

The design of the house blurs boundaries between interior and exterior spaces | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
The design of the house blurs boundaries between interior and exterior spaces Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio

ZK: It has been said that the project contradicts with its context. Is it true?

SP: We wouldn't say it contradicts. There is simply no strong identity to that suburb as it is quite new and relatively empty yet. But the design actually draws quite a lot from its material context, especially in the use of brick vaults constructed from local techniques.

  •  Wide openings overlooking the neighbourhood frame the interior walls  | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Wide openings overlooking the neighbourhood frame the interior walls Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio
  • Staircase detail | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Staircase detail Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio

ZK: Can you briefly explain the spatial layout of the house?

SP: The house follows a typical medium-size home layout, comprising expected number of rooms and types of spaces. The driving principles for us were to eliminate corridors by creating a central staircase and organising rooms around it, to maintain the possibility to isolate spaces and provide expected privacy. This includes possibility to separate kitchen from living room with sliding doors, providing privacy to the bedroom area, having a leisure space separated from the main living room but connected to the pool, a living room connected to upper covered terraces, and various independent outdoor spaces that different family members can use independently without interfering with one another.

  • Simple finishes and soft pastels in the interior spaces | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Simple finishes and soft pastels in the interior spaces Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio
  •  Family gathering spaces are laid next to the outdoor terrace | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Family gathering spaces are laid next to the outdoor terrace Image Credit: Mariela Apollonio

ZK: What constitutes the material palette? Could you highlight some key points from the construction of the project?

SP: The very thin steel structure (10x10cm sections) serves as a support for the brick vaults, which are floating over it. This structure also doubled as a scaffolding during construction. What is very important and special about these vaults is that they do not use any formwork. The bricks are attached to one another by ensuring the gesso is at the right stage of drying when used, so that it sticks and bonds in the moment. This is an incredible advantage in their construction, and although there are faster and more efficient slab construction methods today, we think this system has a great combination of environmental materials and handcraft.

  • A glimpse of the structure during construction | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    A glimpse of the structure during construction Image Credit: Courtesy of Space Popular
  • Site Plan | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Site Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Space Popular
  • Ground Floor Plan | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Ground Floor Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Space Popular
  • First floor plan | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    First floor plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Space Popular
  • Basement floor plan | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Basement floor plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Space Popular
  • Elevations | Brick Vault House | Space Popular | STIRworld
    Elevations Image Credit: Courtesy of Space Popular

With the completion of the Brick Vault House, its modular specifications would now help the client build many new configurations of living spaces across different sites.

Project Details

Name: Brick Vault House
Location: Nueva Santa Barbara, Valencia, Spain
Area: 235 sqm
Architect: Space Popular
Local Architect: Estudio Alberto Burgos & Javier Cortina Maruenda
Furniture: Teulat

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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