Jaume’s House / Guillem Carrera

19 December 2021 -
Mark Smith

Jaume's House features a triangular floor plan and is located within a small urban population surrounded by the freeway, underpass of the freeway, Virgili & Rovira Street, and the graveyard.

The entire area contains distinct morphological features and consists of small houses, many of which were built between the middle and the end of the 20th century. Due to the plot’s small size, the space between existing buildings is also small, resulting in a lively an active community with low separating fences and residents staying in visual contact with one other. The houses can be accessed via a U-shaped entrance and exit which also lead to an inner square.

A detailed analysis of the prevailing houses in the area revealed many of them to be compact in terms of volume while occupying a large proportion of the plot. This gave rise to small leftover non-built spaces with limited or no visual connection and connectivity with outer buildings. Simultaneously, the main façades featuring the biggest openings are lined up along the street, irrespective of their solar positioning.

In accordance with the analysis, the house exhibits a unique architectural plan: the main front overlooks the garden and faces south instead of the street. In fact, the whole building is designed to look onto the garden; however, maximum integration is found on the ground floor, which showcases a central porch connecting the interior and exterior of the house. A productive break creates a central shaded living area so that the width of the plot is free of buildings and directly in contact with non-built areas.

Both sides of the porch feature practical living spaces; there is a suite with a dressing room and bathroom on one side, while the other side showcases a living-kitchen-dining room linked to the first-floor study via a double-height. This space is also linked to the basement, which is meant for storage and facilities. The first-floor interior program is finalized with two bedrooms and an extra bathroom, whereas the outdoor program completes with one first-floor terrace and another terrace on the covered floor that provides a lookout point to appreciate many visual landmarks of Tarragona city, such as the sea, the old town, and the Ermita de la Salut.

The volumetry’s design features simple shapes and a combination of different structures as per the existing buildings in the area, careful not to change the original topography. The street façade with two height levels intends to adjust and create a transition between an initial adjacent ground floor building and a second four-story building. The non-building external areas must accompany a reformed or vegetable garden, as well as a sidewalk on the edge of the building.

To conclude, the limited area of Jaume's House required various strategies to cleverly utilize the space and magnify the perception of its dimensions, such as the double-height living-dining room, outside porch, incorporation of circulation areas within different rooms, capture of sunlight via purposefully constructed windows/skylights, and three distended triangular windows that can also function as floating interiors spaces of isolation with visual contact of the garden.

Photos by: Adrià Goula