Treat Me White: decking the halls with ceramic tile

In the heart of Madrid, a little apartment has shown the world what the canny layering of ceramic parquetry and a bit of innovation can do to effectively double the sense of available space.

Architect Héctor Ruiz-Velázquez’s use of a new ceramic tiling system has transformed a dark, 54-square-metre attic into a bright and modern home, all built through “dry installation”; lightweight tiles are placed over the existing floor and walls, and held in place with staples. “The tiles are totally recoverable if you move house,” Ruiz-Velázquez explains. “The system doesn’t involve construction, there’s no waste on site and noise is minimal.” Commissioned by ASCER (the Spanish Association of Tile and Ceramic Flooring Manufacturers), Ruiz-Velázquez was asked to create a new living concept using ceramic materials. The attic space is prime property – nestled in an early 20th-century building in the exclusive barrio of de Salamanca.

When Ruiz-Velázquez first drew up plans, his primary aim was to eliminate physical and visual barriers. Originally, the attic was divided into five zones – hallway, living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Three large windows facing the exclusive Velazquez Street provided the inspiration for the architect’s design. “I wanted to enhance and unite the windows so that they would illuminate the entire space,” says the architect.

He set about exposing as much of the apartment to the windows as possible. By reconfiguring the floor plan in ceramic layers that created a cube-like and user-focused space, the transformation was instant. “In my work, I try to break down barriers that make city living difficult,” says Ruiz-Velázquez. “Employing only one material allows all the areas in the home to feel connected.” The room’s layered design eliminates the need for an extra floor and also allows the windows to illuminate all living areas. The bedroom, elevated above the living and kitchen, gives the illusion of grander spatial proportions. Vintage furniture in the mid-century American and Nordic style was added to bring warmth.

Easy to install, the ceramic tiles are also environmentally friendly. “Ceramic is a sustainable material in itself because it comes from the earth,” says Ruiz-Velázquez, “and 100 per cent of the materials can be transported and re-used.” While they’re more expensive than paint, the ceramic tiles have long-term benefits which mitigate much of the cost. “They never change colour; they protect, insulate and they’re also shock-resistant,” adds the architect.

Taking just 20 days to build, the project is completely de-mountable. “It can be removed from one location and reconstructed at another. When you want to move, you can take your house wherever you like,” says Ruiz-Velázquez.

Text: Hannah Delaney
Photographs: Pedro Martinez
Illustrations: Héctor Ruiz-Velázquez

2 Responses to “Treat Me White: decking the halls with ceramic tile”
  1. Gemma says:

    Amazing! I love how he transformed this attic space of an early 20th century building in Madrid, into a bright, chic, new living space with a variety of levels. The use of the ceramic layers makes it unique.

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