A red brick wall spans over the gap between two crumbling facades on a street in Catalonia, Spain hiding a home by H Arquitectes with two courtyards and a central garden.
The plot is located in the historical city centre of Granollers and placed into an urban fabric of dwellings between party walls. The available space is very narrow and elongated, only 6.5 m wide, and accessible from two streets.
The desire of the owners was to differentiate two zones in the house: the domestic area, where the daily family life had to take place; and a secondary area, quiet and isolated from the first, functionally independent to be used indistinctly as a living room or to welcome occasional guests as well as organizing meals and meetings.
The east-west orientation of the plot and the narrowness of the access streets made it difficult to achieve a good solar gain throughout the street façades. This circumstance led architects to move back the building from the front street line, creating access patios on both sides of the house.
These patios allow upper solar gain and at the same time create transition spaces, both physically between the street and the house, and between outdoor and indoor climate. Semi covered and practicable spaces with retractable roofs tops allow capturing energy during winter time as well as ventilation through summer. The qualities of privacy, light, space and thermal comfort of these spaces allow the house to be used and perceived from end to end. The addition of this sequence of spaces and thermal conditions creates a ground floor 53 m long totaling 345 m² dedicated to the most frequent and collective use of the house. It works at the same time as a long continuous hallway, giving access to the private and service areas of the house located in the upper floor and the basement, respectively.
Finally the house is climatized by radiant systems linked to a geothermal system to allow passive exchange with the ground. Additional to the radiant floors, metallic sheet composite-slabs -structures activated by the ground working as large radiators or radiant surfaces- help dissipating the heat during summer. This high internal inertia linked to the ground temperature allows achieving a very stable thermal behavior over the seasons with the lowest energetic consumption.