Architect: Manuel Ocaña Arquitectos Location: Calle Pelayo, Madrid, Spain Collaborators: Roberto González García, Maja Frackowiack, Michael Rabold y Sebastian Camacho (ground painting) Project year: 2005-2006 Promotor: Benedicta Uría Contractor: Manuel Ocaña Constructed Area: 67 sqm Budget: $75,000 EURO (US $104,775) Photographs: Miguel de Guzman
This is a project where one cannot dismiss the personal dimension of the commission: the refurbishment of an attic for my mother-in-law, Canadian, my daughters’ grandmother. It is a project that detects traces, records them, and leaves new prints for the ‘next one’ that may wish to search. And the idea is to build it following a different protocol. This new construction protocol, its agents and that sort of mystique of the traces will be the ‘Project’.
An oak wood dais of 140 millimeters over furried boards seems to be the appropriate canvas to register the levels of the traces and then build the dwelling on top in order to silence them. The work starts at floor level after the usual procedures of spatial and structural cleansing. That floor, that wood surface, shall unveil the encountered traces. On the one hand detecting the traces, discovering a network of concealed geometries that are outlined when laying the floors through a precise detailing of the boards; on the other, the new traces are stamped by drawing on top of the discovered geometries the portrait of the beautiful woman that will live in the house. This involves a carpenter, an enthusiastic student of fine arts, Photoshop, the Xiladecor palette on the market, aniline and a set of gouges to engrave the drawing in the terrace. End of the first stage.
The unveiled geometry and the three rear windows determine the repositioning of the partition walls that define the two bedrooms and bathroom required. And the leitmotiv of the next step of the building protocol is ‘on top and dry’. Everything built is dry and on top of… there are no interferences; not among the materials, not among systems, not among the guilds that participate. The trace of the portrait is silenced by placing the partitions and furniture on top. There are only wonderful stains on the floor. Perhaps the next resident will discover the secret.