News Home & Design Office Readapted as a Minimalist Beachside Residence This project in Spain uses a 'natural interior landscape' to connect the house to picturesque surroundings. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published October 19, 2022 03:00PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Adria Goula News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Sometimes older buildings are no longer used for what they were originally intended for—and that can be a good thing, when it comes to trying to reduce embodied carbon emissions. Rather than generating more carbon from the process of extracting, processing, transporting, and assembling materials into shiny, new, and more carbon-intensive buildings, we can tread the wiser path of adaptive reuse and convert existing buildings to serve new uses instead. After all, the greenest building is the one that is already standing; churches and old water towers can be turned into housing, factories into offices, and defunct malls into shelters and libraries. Over in Gavà, Spain, architect Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge helped one couple transform a former office into a residence. Blessed with high ceilings and a view of Gavà Mar Beach, the project aims to foster a "natural interior landscape" that feels connected with the beautiful surroundings outside. The new design scheme for the Gava Beach House takes a deliberately minimalist approach, as seen in the choice of all-white walls, floors, and cabinets, and the judicious use of wooden elements. These light-colored surfaces help to bounce off natural light coming in, thus increasing the amount of illumination overall. As the architect explains: "The design proposes two construction strategies that lead to a unitary language and a new space identity. The first provides maximum light to the house, by painting white the floor and concrete block walls. The second design strategy puts emphasis on the horizontal planes. Cross-laminated timber fir beams, together with the tongue-and-groove boards, contrast with the new abstract environment created. The choice of materials responds both to searching an aesthetic and to achieving a sustainable intervention." Adria Goula The spacious feel of the former office space has been kept, thanks to the open layout. The idea was to provide flexibility to the couple, allowing them to adapt the interior to fit their changing needs. To add extra floor area, the redesigned unit now has a mezzanine, which also serves to conceptually emphasize the horizon of the sea beyond the confines of this loft space: "The horizon line draws the changing duality between the sky and the sea, so sensitively reflected in Hiroshi Sugimoto's work 'Seascapes.' The design highlights this horizontality through a game of levels at different heights, giving rise to a succession of horizons inside the new house." Adria Goula This extra level makes the most out of the 16-foot-tall ceilings, while leaving a double-height space for the living room. Adria Goula The kitchenette here is simple but functional, incorporating all the basics like a stove, oven, range hood, and other appliances hidden behind the white cabinetry. Adria Goula The view out from under the mezzanine is calming indeed, and the intention here is to allow the clients to gradually grow plants that will form an "double-height interior garden" that echoes what is outside, say the designers. "The presence of an interior garden aims to expand the vegetation of the beach in a new interior natural atmosphere. In this way, the project is an opportunity to bring humans closer to our natural origin. The vertical movement of the climbing plants draws a path of green leaves in the empty space. It is about the intrinsic beauty of imperfection and impermanence in time. The duality between living and dead matter; the irregular shapes of the pine’s trunks in contrast to the beams that once formed the fir trunks. A landscape between the organic and the abstract, which blurs the boundaries between inside and outside. A new scenery full of calm and harmony, where the interaction of light plays a poetic role." Adria Goula A sculptural staircase makes its way up along the wall opposite the kitchen, and has been designed in a way that makes it feel less bulky and less visually obstructive. Adria Goula The stairs lead up to the mezzanine level, which has a long horizontal table made out of wood, offering a place to work or sit. Adria Goula There is also a platform here to place a bed and, once again, that horizontality is underscored by the platform's floating appearance. Adria Goula Using a set of simple materials, this minimalist and effective design helps to extend the life of this former office building, while providing a harmonious sense of home and a beautiful view out to the ocean. To see more, visit Roman Izquierdo Bouldstridge.