Azure - - CONTENTS - WORDS _Alexan­dra Caufin PHO­TO­GRAPHS _José Hevia

Squeez­ing un­ex­pected in­no­va­tion into a Span­ish tile in­stal­la­tion

In Spain, tile-spot­ting is a ver­i­ta­ble tourist ac­tiv­ity. In par­tic­u­lar, Barcelona’s side­walks – cov­ered in pat­terned panot paving tiles de­signed by cel­e­brated Cata­lan ar­chi­tects of past and present – are an ode to the ma­te­rial: An­toni Gaudí’s oceanic hexagons, among the city’s most fa­mous, cre­ate an ab­stract vista of sea crea­tures along the Pas­seig de Grà­cia. Spain is also the birth­place of mod­ern hy­draulic tiles, which first ap­peared in Cat­alo­nia in the 1850s. Add that legacy to the coun­try’s en­dur­ing pal­ette of bold geo­met­ric shapes and ter­ra­cotta and you have the driv­ing force be­hind the home of Laia Her­rera and Biel Huguet, own­ers of the Mal­lorca-based tile brand Huguet. The cou­ple’s 65-square-me­tre flat in Barcelona’s Grà­cia dis­trict is a dy­namic sal­vaging project mar­ry­ing old and new. “We al­ways try to work from legacy and the knowl­edge that tra­di­tion gives us,” says Jaume Mayol of TED’A ar­qui­tectes, which led the re­fur­bish­ment of the in­te­rior. Given that Her­rera and Huguet are pur­vey­ors of hy­draulic tiles, ce­ment was sure to be a pri­mary com­po­nent of the space. The apart­ment’s sprawl­ing tiled floor (fea­tur­ing Huguet prod­ucts, natch) lends a cool cantina at­mos­phere and es­sen­tial Mediter­ranean feel. But it’s the ter­ra­cotta-speck­led grout that truly shines. The be­spoke mor­tar is made us­ing the home’s orig­i­nal red-clay tile­work, a fea­ture that had a strong pres­ence in the space but over time was dam­aged be­yond re­pair. To pre­serve its essence, the tiles were ground to a multi-sized ag­gre­gate and com­bined with white plas­ter – a tech­nique that Huguet and TED’A de­vel­oped in tan­dem in 2017. The re­sult is a pol­ished ter­razzo grout that may well be the world’s first. “This tile has a mem­ory,” Mayol notes. “It ac­cepts its pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and pro­poses to trans­form them.” The apart­ment’s other stand­out in­ter­ven­tion is an end­less spruce wardrobe, stretch­ing from floor to ceil­ing. It trav­els from one end of the home to the other, turn­ing corners and wind­ing be­tween spa­ces. It not only breaks up an oth­er­wise bi-chro­matic pal­ette of white and red, but di­vides the orig­i­nal three rooms into six, ad­ding a din­ing area, liv­ing room and study. Sin­gu­lar ges­tures de­fine this calm, po­etic space: floor­ing that moves from room to room, a stor­age sys­tem that con­nects di­ver­gent ar­eas. “We pre­fer evo­lu­tion to rev­o­lu­tion,” Mayol says. “Ev­ery de­ci­sion has to be co­her­ent with the pre­vi­ous one. Our process runs from the first line of the project un­til the very last stone.” tedaar­qui­, huguet­mal­

ABOVE: Ter­ra­cotta tile was bro­ken up and mixed into plas­ter to form a unique ter­razzo grout for the floors and walls.

LEFT AND TOP: A spruce wood stor­age cor­ri­dor runs the length of the space, break­ing it into smaller rooms.

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