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Carrer de la Diputació / Heim Balp Architekten

Carrer de la Diputació / Heim Balp Architekten

The Berlin-based practice founded in 2006 by Michael Heim and Pietro Balp, have completed the Carrer de la Diputació and Carrer de Nàpols residential developments. By conceiving them as urban infills, the design team, whose vision is rooted in a distinct notion of architecture as social incubator, demonstrates its sensitivity to and engagement with the local architectural, cultural, and urban context. These completions, each with its distinct architectural language, will be followed by the Carrer de Gombau and Carrer de l’Aurora projects, also addressing Barcelona’s compact urban sphere through context-specific infills, due to be completed in 2022.

ph: Filippo Poli – Courtesy of Heim Balp Architekten

Located in Barcelona’s dense Eixample quarter, erected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Carrer de la Diputació is a seven-story building situated on a 7.5-meter-wide and 28-meter-deep site, entirely covered by the building. It was conceived as a vertical extension of the city in response to a limited ground area, it reflects the studio’s creative and pragmatic understanding of local planning policies and constraints, all-the-more in a city advocating for reduced density.  

ph: Filippo Poli – Courtesy of Heim Balp Architekten

Intent on retaining a contextual essence, the local culture guides the material and aesthetic choices of the Diputació project, noticeable in particular on the façade. Circulating local restrictions for a classical, hierarchical floor division, the cladding of both multilayered façades – complementing windows with filtering panels – is folded in and out, reflecting Barcelona’s playful architecture, each through its very own, singular architectural language. 

At Carrer de la Diputació, the hybrid façade is clad with openable red stretch steel panels, boldly calling to the brick colors of the historic Plaza de Toros. Set vertically, they extend upwards, emphasizing the verticality of the slim building while serving protection from sun and glare. 

 

Continuously referencing the surrounding culture, Heim Balp expose a porous building, where visible French windows and hidden loggias coexist: a filter through which residents communicate with the rest of the city. Their designs are conceived as an inherently mixed-use space, allowing for a plurality of functions to cohabit. Building on their experience of Berlin’s urban revival in the 1990s, during which they founded and managed DELI – a 1,000-square-meter warehouse-turned-alternative event space for creative interventions and social exchange – Heim and Balp consider these two buildings as rife with spatial possibilities. 

ph: Filippo Poli – Courtesy of Heim Balp Architekten

In both cases, fostering the notion of community while responding to the limited size of the individual units, they turn shared spaces into a common resource, distributing communal spaces throughout the building. At la Diputació, the main common area is the basement, equipped with a kitchen and a shared laundry room, as well as leisure and work areas. The other two, a mezzanine and large rooftop space, open onto the luminous atrium, the facing street, and over the rest of the city. Based on mobility and connectivity, the resulting designs act as intelligible contemporary urban living spaces

DATE: 2021 / LOCATION: Barcelona, Spain / AREA: 1050 m2 (built) / PROGRAM: Mixed-use (residential; hospitality; commercial) / STATUS: built / DESIGN: Heim Balp Architekten / PROJECT TEAM: Pietro Balp, Michael Heim, Ben Goldstein, Sara Brysch, Andreia Martins, Tommaso Petrucci, Giordana Ghinzani; in collaboration with Derryk Dettinger Arquitecte / PHOTOS: Filippo Poli. Courtesy of Heim Balp Architekten

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