In some buildings, the past jumps out at you at every turn, and the new dwellers have to strike the right balance between allowing the traces of the past to remain and meeting the requirements of a contemporary lifestyle.
This is the case of a palatial residence in the medieval quarter of Girona, just a few steps away from the Cathedral, where the architecture studio El Replà succeeded in aligning these parallel realities with the utmost skill. Within this complex process, bulthaup Girona played a key role in creating a kitchen that avoids upstaging the extraordinary original architecture while contributing functionality and warmth to the large central space of the current home.
From the Jewish quarter to the palatial street
Located on the Carrer de la Força, which became the busy main street of Girona's Jewish quarter from the 11th century onward, the house bore witness to the many changes the city underwent over the course of time: the definitive expulsion of the Jews in the 15th century, the building’s 16th-century transformation into the Casa Bret (whose coat of arms has survived on its wall until today) and later into the Palau Burgués, named after the family of ennobled merchants who expanded the palace during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the past one hundred years, the building has had a variety of uses, ranging from a museum of the city's history to a painter's studio: each one of its walls has many stories to tell.
Although a large number of elements have managed to survive –for instance, the imposing woodwork of the 18th-century balconies with their original interior shutters– over the course of the centuries the structural elements had to be reinforced and the indoor spaces were subjected to a series of transformations.
For the architecture studio El Replà, restoring the hydraulic cement tile floors, which in the early 20th century added color and lightness to the palace's dark halls, was a top priority. The process required a painstaking effort involving the replacement of the damaged pieces with others handcrafted with molds made to match the originals. In the central kitchen area, those floors delimiting the former footprints of two large rooms have now been joined into one single space, reminding us of the building's previous lives.
bulthaup in the central hub
Leopold Bautista's team at bulthaup Girona worked in close collaboration with the architect to create the central meeting place in the home. A graceful combination of bulthaup b1, b2 and b3 units exhibits the brand's entire product range, joining forces to generate this gathering place. A large kitchen island made of b1 units in matte alpine white lacquer under a b3 worktop with a 9cm oak bar top emerges in the center, spanning and connecting the two cement tile "rugs". Against the back wall, a b2 kitchen tool cabinet adds the warmth of oak wood while providing an elegant solution for storage; next to it, mounted on the wall, a b2 appliance cabinet places the oven at the perfect height.
Through a glass wall, on the mezzanine, the piano and the saxophone await their moment. Meanwhile, downstairs, around the bulthaup island, friends gather to cook and chat in a space that brings together the staggering recollection of centuries past with the present –and reaches out towards an uncharted future. An intimation of eternity.
Photographer: Xavi Juanola.