We're Obsessed

This Apartment in Madrid Was Inspired by Le Corbusier's Villa La Roche

The renovation created a colorful, light-filled space
Image may contain Indoors Room Oven and Appliance
Sergio Pradana

In his book Toward an Architecture, Le Corbusier made a surprising comparison between the Greek temples of Paestum, in Italy, and a car manufactured in 1907. For him, the ancient sites and the mass production of vehicles reflected similar design processes—of continuous improvement with each subsequent model better than the one that preceded it. The purists of the time took issue and piled on Le Corbusier with their critiques. Who could have imagined that 99 years later, this heterodox way of thinking about design would still have remarkable power and relevance.

The color palette at Villa La Roche involves a carefully considered palette, one that can clearly been seen here.

© Sergio Pradana

Enter: Plutarco, an architectural firm helmed by Ana Arana and Enrique Ventosa, whose latest project builds on Le Corbusier’s insight. The #VLLN3 house, as Ana and Enrique have baptized it, reflects a variety of references and influences. The firm’s masterful redesign of the space also reflects that moment of transition in the ’50s, when midcentury aesthetics gave way to Space Age ones. Who better than Plutarco, a Madrid firm included on AD España’s AD100 List, to continue that timeless and eclectic spirit that Le Corbusier embodied.

The project is located in Madrid’s Concepción neighborhood, famous for the blocks of apartments featured in Pedro Almodóvar’s film What Have I Done to Deserve This? Today it is one of the most populated and congested areas of the capital, where the M-30 ring road encircling Madrid sits beyond the city center on a frontier that may appear sterile at first glance.

Furnishings from HAY complete the look in the kitchen.

© Sergio Pradana

The apartment that Plutarco renovated is home to a young professional couple and located in one of those apartment blocks, on a fourth floor with sweeping views and incredible light. “The project's floor plan was shaped by the original design. We opted to unify the living/dining room with the kitchen, leaving the bedroom in the same place, and then moving the entrance to the bathroom in order to optimize the circulation,” the design team says.

The owner, an architect who works in the digital environment, was looking for a redesign that was colorful but not merely following trends. “Working with the owner was very easy because he was very clear about what he was looking for. We interviewed him and asked him for his Pinterest inspiration board, and that's when we decided to pay tribute to the great classics of the modern movement,” according to Plutarco’s team. They chose the color palette of Villa La Roche by Le Corbusier, a landmark of modern architecture.

The renovation has a visual pleasure that vindicates that moment of transition of the ’50s when midcentury gave way to the Space Age. The blue Ekstrem lounge chair perfectly fits the vibe.

© Sergio Pradana

“For us, Villa La Roche is a clear example that the modern movement is not based on whites, grays, and blacks. In fact, the opposite is true: it’s a whole explosion of color. That's how we decided that the ceiling would be light blue; the walls, cream-colored; and the floors a pale pink microcement. The kitchen, at the center of the apartment, is a mixture of terracotta and maroon,” the team explains.

“As for the pieces, we wanted to contrast the project with something more contemporary, with designs by Belgian studio Muller Van Severen and Danish brand, HAY. The kitchen is complemented with 6x6-inch ecru tiling (the same color as the countertop) and in the bathroom we used a checkerboard in maroon and blue. In addition, for the bedroom we wanted to keep the original terrazzo of the house,” says the team.

This project confirms what we already knew about Plutarco—the firm’s work combines color, functionality, and design in a unique way—it gives rise to contemporary solutions with their clear and refined interiors. Le Corbusier would surely have loved the apartment, as his legacy is also closely linked to innovations in urban planning and social housing. Madrid's Concepción neighborhood cannot be understood apart from its social housing, something that is true of this apartment as well.