Pia Mendaro designs an elevated living space in a former warehouse in Madrid

With a brief that imagines a Ron Weasley house, the Spanish architect detaches a key program off the ground in the design of Topo’s Shed, an abode for an artist friend.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Feb 25, 2020

Spanish architect Pia Mendaro defies convention and reconfigures the requisites of a modern home in the design of Topo’s Shed – a home-cum-studio for her artist friend Clara Cebrian in Madrid.

Cebrian’s brief was simple - she does not like overly designed things and thus, wanted something that could adapt to the needs that appear over a period of time. Something like a ‘Ron Weasley house’!

 The project is designed as a basis for life to happen| Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
The project is designed as a basis for life to happenImage Credit: Manuel Ocaña

Mendaro was asked to transform a 100 sqm warehouse into a flexible workspace and housing for her friend. The site had a gable roof held by two steel rafters, a façade with two windows and a door. Responding to Cebrian’s wish, the project was conceived to be ‘almost nothing’, with a basis for life to happen.

“We were sure about three things: The space must be understood as what it is – a square. That we had to use a kitchen that Clara had bought for sale. And that the downspouts were where they were, and were immovable,” explains Mendaro.

Flexible living spaces populate the layout | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
Flexible living spaces populate the layout Image Credit: Manuel Ocaña

The key intervention in Topo’s Shed is the positioning of a light, semi-hanging platform as the artist’s sleeping place, designed in collaboration with architect Manuel Ocana. "We thought of making a wheeled bed, a cabin, a box with windows, until we decided to detach ourselves from the ground," says Mendaro.

Thin steel rounds and corrugated rods beautifully tie the structure to the ceiling truss, making ample space for sleeping and lazing in the air.

  • Thin steel rounds and corrugated rods tie the structure to the ceiling truss | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    Thin steel rounds and corrugated rods tie the structure to the ceiling truss Image Credit: Manuel Ocaña
  • Light filters into the space through the opening above the elevated bed | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    Light filters into the space through the opening above the elevated bedImage Credit: Manuel Ocaña

The structure appears like the horizon of the warehouse as it is set close to the opening of the overhead gabled roof. A movable ladder leads up to the platform, which can accommodate five people at a time. Further, a flight of steps that also serve the purpose of seating, lead to the balcony and provides stunning views of the neighbourhood.

A hammock tied at the base of the elevated bed overlooks the studio space  | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
A hammock tied at the base of the elevated bed overlooks the studio space Image Credit: Manuel Ocaña

While the main door of the house opens directly into the living space, Mendaro opted to keep the bathroom door hidden from plain sight by using a wall.This covert wall separates the kitchen and the main living space from the bathroom and storage facility. Offsetting the larger cement flooring, wooden planks line the small floor space of the kitchen, keeping it free from dirt.

  • Underside of the elevated platform | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    Underside of the elevated platform Image Credit: Manuel Ocaña
  • Sleeping space for the artist (below) and steps that lead to the balcony| Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    Sleeping space for the artist (below) and steps that lead to the balcony Image Credit: Manuel Ocaña
  • The elevated platform opens to the balcony | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    The elevated platform opens to the balconyImage Credit: Manuel Ocaña

The rest of the house includes a lounge in one of the corners, a hammock tied to the underside of the bed, and a fairly large open space as the artist’s studio. Greys and whites of walls, floor and ceiling contrast powerfully with pastel and coral hues of the kitchen cabinet, furniture and the artworks.

  • Inside the bathroom | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    Inside the bathroom Image Credit: Manuel Ocaña
  • Layout Plan | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    Layout Plan Image Credit: Pia Mendaro
  • Sections | Topo's Shed | Pia Mendaro | STIRworld
    Sections Image Credit: Pia Mendaro

In retrospect, is there something that the architect would have liked to do differently? “There is never direct sunlight getting in, since the windows are facing north, which is good, but I am guessing maybe curtains will be needed to sleep longer through the day,” smiles Mendaro.

Project Details

Name: Topo’s Shed
Location: Madrid, Spain
Architect: Pia Mendaro
Built area: 100 sqm
Promoter: Clara Cebrian
Production: Fast&Furious Office
Completion: 2020

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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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