Mas-aqui uses multiple levels to open up Yurikago House in Barcelona

Architecture studio Mas-aqui has transformed an apartment in Barcelona into a multi-level home lined with wood and ceramic tiles.

Mas-aqui renovated the semi-basement apartment near Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell, using half levels to create more space on the upper storey and creating a new internal staircase to connect to a previously unused lower level.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

The project is called Yurikago House after the Japanese word for a cradle. The name references the shape of the wooden structure that supports part of a new mezzanine, and also works as a reinforcement for Yurikago House’s frame.

The cradle-like mezzanine is made of slatted wood that allows light to filter down onto the ground floor dining area. This space adjoins a recessed kitchen, while a bathroom is tucked away behind a wooden door panel.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

The living room meanwhile is on a raised platform with tall arched windows and doors that open onto a balcony.

This level is accessible via a pair of wooden steps: one set rests on a tiled floor and the second is perched on a concrete plinth that doubles as a fireplace.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

The sunny lounge area looks out over the balcony and enjoys a high ceiling vaulted in the traditional Catalan style. A wooden structure covering a staircase doubles as a table.

On the other side of the dining area, another step leads up to a long wooden platform that connects with a flight of cantilevered wooden stairs. This platform can double as a bench.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

Concrete panels in an L-shape line the staircase, protecting the white-painted walls and supporting the individual treads.

The staircase connects to the fourth level by rounding another corner. This topmost level of Yurikago House is divided into several sections.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

A study area sits in the wooden cradle, the taller side forming a half-wall that acts as a balcony overlooking the living space and the windows beyond.

Floor-to-ceiling glazing allows natural light to flow unimpeded into the adjacent main bedroom, which is accessed via a sliding door.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

Two small rooms either side of the bedroom contain a toilet and shower room respectively.

On the landing next to the shower room runs a gallery that overlooks the living space on one side, and has built-in storage space and bookshelves that are visible from the sofa below.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

The gap between the gallery floor and the living room floor forms a wood-lined alcove that is used as a tokonoma, a Japanese display area for artworks.

To complete the project Mas-aqui excavated below the main living space to create an internal stair to the home’s basement level, which was previously only accessible via an outdoor staircase.

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

This level now contains a guest bedroom with a bed framed by a structural arch. This bedroom has its own sink, and a separate toilet and shower room. It also has access to a small sunken courtyard.

“The excavation created a double-height space, surrounded by exposed concrete retaining walls,” said Mas-aqui. “This intervention completely determined the character of the house and became a central element.”

Yurikago House by Mas-aqui

Throughout the project Mas-aqui chose a simple, natural palette of concrete, red ceramic tiles, white walls and plain wood for Yurikago House.

The kitchen and bathroom surfaces are topped with a flecked grey stone that complements the exposed concrete.

Founded by Japanese architect Masaaki Higashi and Minorcan artist Esther Mir, Mas-aqui blends Spanish and Catalan design in their projects.

Recently the practice renovated another 20th-century apartment in Barcelona to create a minimalist home lit by a skylight.

Photography is by José Hevia.

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