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PhotographJOSÉ HEVIA

Blauflat, Ceilings and Starry Nights

How to open up an old eighth floor apartment to the far 300º views of el Camp and the Mediterranean skies -both during daytime but also to the starry night-, while improving its energy efficiency? A continuous timber frame wall that gets as thick as rooms and houses wet and hot sources, while becoming an active indoors climate regulator that reaches out to the far views of el Camp and the Mediterranean.


41°10’05.5″N 0°58’26.8″E This apartment is located in Reus, on the upper side of Passeig Sunyer, a very windy avenue, populated with high sycamore trees. Not so long ago, this wide avenue was unpaved, and often your eyes got filled with dust and myriad parts of sycamore fruit balls. It is on an eighth floor in an existing apartment block. It is open to three orientations: south, east and west. Its height gives open and far views over most of el Camp territory, from la Mussara and Llaveria mountain ranges to the Mediterranean sea.


Being in the higher part of town, in one of the tallest apartment buildings in the area, its mere elevation could turn it into an airy apartment with open, distant views to the blue of our Mestral skies. To live close to the cloudless sky and its starry nights. To gaze at the sunset and the white clouds. This habitat actually belongs to the troposphere, not to the soil.


A big flat that occupies a whole floor. Three former apartments turnt into one. Its inner layout is totally different from the three apartments above and the three below. This causes columns and water pipes to spread all around the house, always in the middle of something, often in the worst possible spot.


This place had been abandoned for several years, there is rumours that in fact it was never inhabited. The kitchen was brand twenty-five years new. The apartment was quite dark and closed within itself. It was kitschy, brown and earthy. Its walls, tiles, windows and services were not it their best shape, so it was more economical to carry out a thorough renovation. Its ceilings were rather low. The place was designed and built with the energy waste mindset of four decades ago. A new energy strategy was necessary.


Horizons. Clouds. Wind. Blue. Night. These are our plan’s building blocks. Craving for an atmosphere that is both Japanese and Nordic -a fictional idea of openness and peaceful light interiors at once; or at least a feeling of being in the most refined dwellings of those cultures when at home. The elevated Katsura meets a warm Villa Mairea’s domesticity. How do you inhabit the sky? We develop a simple partitions system that can accommodate all eventual longings, providing a gradation of spaces that enhance intimacy in occasional events and in the more open daily habits at the same time.

We started the plan by acknowledging the messy disposition of structure and services, and the lack of any kind of insulation, as an opportunity to carry a thorough energy refurbishment. A continuous thermal insulating membrane and new windows are introduced in order to drastically regulate the heat exchanges with the outdoors. These windows have different opening strategies to minimise the impact of the strong Mestral winds. Between the existing facade and this new twirling membrane we relocate all the wet areas. Big sliding doors communicate both sides of this snaky birch blanket. Huge sliding doors organise the apartment in four independent areas or a single fluent space. The radiant floor, heated by an aerothermal system, and the thick ceilings clad with thin cork, contribute to the same goal.

The ceiling contains the messy services of the upper floors, while contributing to heightening and lighting the interior, both reflecting daylight and becoming part of the sky at night. A sideral fine grain cork surface absorbs the tiny noises beneath it.


Ceiling lights are constellations maps.

Round lamp.

Round lamp.

Door handles mock-ups.


José Hevia. 30 July 2018.

We asked José to document the contrast between reflective and matte walls; raw and coloured panels; flat and round touch; tectonic and symbolic logics; hard and soft surfaces. To present smaller rooms that feel bigger; lower ceilings that become very high; narrow thresholds that multiply; dusky corners that seem lighter; and brighter spaces that reflect a peaceful light.


Search questions

As a consequence of our search as architects, we also produce understanding and knowledge made of words -written and spoken. This search revolves around twelve constant themes, questions we don’t have a definitive answer to yet. This knowledge is not just a by-product of our activity, but rather an instrumental part that develops simultaneously and is imbricated in building. Search Questions is our sisyphean effort to organize and share this knowledge while it's blossoming, fragile and unstable. By doing so, a more specific understanding, and more refined questions emerge.

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