There's nothing like living in a 150 year old town house to learn the advantages and downsides of local traditional construction. In summer and winter, inner conditions were more comfortable than those outside, but in spring and autumn, due to the big heat absorption of its walls, it was the opposite. Some simple solutions had to be found in order to have a more active regulation of this micro weather.
Porrera is located in the Priorat, amongst low hills. Its climate is slightly more continental than the one in el Camp, with hotter summers and much colder winters. As it was a rental house, where no structure or enclosure could be altered, these solutions had to be reversible, light and cheap. The system we developed allowed fire wood to last three winters instead of the one that was initially planned.
The budget was almost zero, there was some time available. So a self-built strategy had to be chosen. But the dwellers were not bricoleurs, although they enjoyed working with their hands on the weekends.
Techniques had to be very simple too. No special tools had to be bought, and no craft skills were required. Scissors and glue were preferred to hammer and nail, bricks, wood or mortar. For the price of an IKEA chair, we got 1000 m2 of cardboard.
With it we built chairs, lounge chairs, several sofas, a guest room, even a guitar. We drew very little. It was an experimentation with direct, as rough as possible, decisions.
We explored the physical qualities of cardboard, which can be easily bent, cut, folded. It has also quite good insulation properties. It is light and quite strong if used in the proper ways. It also gives a warm, calm light, and absorbs sounds in such a way as to strengthen the silence in our town.
Most of these inhabitable furniture was built on weekends from 2009 to 2012. The guest room was built on a Saturday in autumn 2009, with the help and generosity of Gerard Fernández marmolejo and Dídac González.
Furniture was moved to our office and is still in use, either to sit down on or as material for the models of our new projects.
In 2011 we built a new guest room, this time with plywood boards that were leftovers of a construction site, and were initially used as tables. As dwellers, we have all the time to observe, think and learn better ways of living in a place. As architects, we have to be faster. Dwelling is a primary fountain of improvement as architects. Observation, a critical spirit and empathy are the others.
The day we left the house, it was cleaner and emptier than we found it.
These boards have been transformed into the doors and furniture of our new home by the sea.