A modern home that speaks of tradition and family, but with an extra touch — a flicker of magic subverting the rules of the game. This is the Magic Box Apartment, designed by Catalan architect Raul Sanchez, who announces the home’s fantastical vocation in its very name. But don’t expect anything too ostentatious or over the top. The magic here is often nested in details, in simple gestures that become extraordinary, and in everyday rituals cloaked in a new light.
The design digs its roots into the past, in an old structure that incarnates the spirit of a more traditional architecture. Distributed across two floors and situated in the center of Viladecans, an industrial city not far from Barcelona, the two-family home hosts two generations: on the ground floor, a young family with two young girls, and their grandparents above, smothering them in love.
From the very beginning, the architect decided not to damage the original layout, and so, to dictate the distribution of spaces is a structural wall that runs longitudinally, creating two well-defined bays on either side. The remaining internal partitions were knocked down to liberate the space, appropriating a new language of fluidity and interconnection.
From the entrance, we open onto a wide living area, consisting of a series of floors/partitions that communicate between one another, with the addition of gaps and cracks that engage even the floor above. The living area is projected onto the external garden, with a niche window that creates a generous space in between, suspended between the indoors and outdoors. From the other side of the supporting wall, a continuum of rooms full of doors and passageways develops, underlining a propensity for interaction that was embedded in the design. Spaces are never closed or separated, but rather participate in the delightful domestic labyrinth that surrounds them.
Of the three bedrooms, two are destined for the family’s daughters, which are really just one space linked at the center by a “magic box”, lending the home its name. The piece is an abstract volume, like a treasure chest or suspended non-place, made specifically to nourish the imagination and fantasy. Realized in brass, gilded and polished, almost as if to underline its worth, this “secret passage” between the two rooms is also a storage space, with a wardrobe and compartments that are always useful.
While here it’s the sparkling brass that steals the scene, elsewhere we find a combination of materials that’s measured and functional, with the purpose of tracing the confines between various atmospheres. The flooring in the rooms unfolds in wood, but changes direction on both sides of the load-bearing wall; in the bathrooms and closets, wood gives way to white microcement. To complete the apartment, lintels and jambs are covered in steel, punctuating the transition between environments that fill diverse roles, even without doors or walls to separate them. Even color is a contributing factor, with small strategic variations within a luminous and neutral frame.
It's with this that Raul Sanchez has organized the life of a contemporary family, placing interaction and engagement center stage without renouncing the chance to astonish and highlight differences. After all, the daily routine should never be without a pinch of magic.