Horta Novella

  • LOCATION Sabadell
  • > CLIENT Private
  • YEAR 2017
  • STATUS Built
  • CATEGORY Architecture
  • SCALE City
  • TEAM OUA Group (Jordi Framis and Oscar Company)

“We opted for a forceful architecture marked by materiality to emphasise the value and scale of the old centre without mimicking it with the surroundings”

A utopia come true: to achieve light, space, spaciousness and a garden area with a swimming pool in the old centre of Sabadell. The project unifies several plots on two continuous streets and creates two multi-family buildings with a shared interior block and an underground car park. We talked to Jordi Framis and Òscar Company to understand the decisions behind every detail.

What elements make the project unique?
It is remarkable to have created a very bright and open space in the centre of Sabadell, with large apartments and a large communal area with a swimming pool. The urban development remarks a great job by joining several plots and creating very deep apartments. We have inverted the duplexes so that the terrace areas connect with the living room.

As for the details, the choice of white billets for the façade, contrasting the colour of the neighbouring buildings, is a bold and daring decision that enhances the aesthetic value of the project.

What is the capacity of the new buildings?
Each building is adapted to the scale of each of the streets it faces. The building on Sant Cugat Street is smaller, occupying two plots and with a total of eight dwellings: two on the ground floor, three on the first floor and three duplexes on the second floor and the attic. The building facing Horta Novella Street occupies four plots and has thirteen dwellings: three on the ground floor, four on the first floor and six on the second floor, four of them are duplexes.

How have the outdoor spaces been organised?
All the ground floor homes have private gardens with a small porch of different sizes that has a strip of hard ground in contact with the façade, and vegetative paving towards inside the block.

From the interior halls of the two buildings located on the ground floor, there is access to the open and communal space via an exterior corridor. This space resolves with a gentle slope the unevenness between the ground floors of the two buildings and creates an axis of communication between two streets that were previously isolated. From this area, it is possible to access a children’s play area, as well as swimming pool and garden areas.

What has been the biggest challenge when designing the spaces?
As this is a housing development in which we did not know the end user, the interiors of each apartment have been designed so that they can be lived in and transformed in different ways. We prioritized that these dwellings could be easily adaptable to the needs of each owner. In this way, a standard architecture has not been imposed, but rather different types of housing have been designed for different types of users. A clear example of this can be found in the second floor duplexes. The fact of inverting the order of the daily use rooms (living room, kitchen-living room) and night rooms (bedrooms) has made it easier to make the most of the covered terraces, giving the spaces the maximum amount of light.

On the other hand, implementing a new architecture in an area with a very marked character always presents many challenges, which, in addition to the need to integrate with the surroundings, can end up restricting the proposal. Our response was to opt for a forceful architecture, very marked by materiality, with a relationship of full and empty spaces that wanted to emphasise the value and scale of the old centre of Sabadell without mimicking it with the surroundings. The monolithic appearance of the building is presented as a daring proposal in a very diverse context and with a very distinctive and recognised entity for Sabadell.

It was important that the transparency between the ground floor spaces could be read at all times. These spaces give depth from the street and towards the interior garden as a reminiscence of the old centres of the cities of the 18th century. Back then, courtyards served as a transition between the public and private spaces of the homes. In this way, the morphology of the architecture is adapted to the surroundings, recovering the essence of tradition, and adapting it to the new ways of living.