In the centre of San Sebastian in Spain, an apartment stands out for its bright interior and regional charm. SAN House is located in a traditional 19th century building that was originally designed by local Basque architect Antonio Cortázar. The renovation by Amaia Arana Arkitektura seeks to connect with the original dwelling while delivering high levels of comfort and function.
Emblematic of the regional architecture, the apartment building was constructed of a wooden structure and featured a sandstone facade. The design strategy for the renovation was to highlight the underlying structure by creating a relatively blank space around it. This was achieved using a combination of design techniques. Firstly, the gorgeous wood beams, sandstone, and classic window openings were restored. Then, minimal details were added to make the home practical without aesthetically overpowering the traditional elements. Minimal details such as pocket doors, recessed lighting, and a lack of hardware contribute to the design goal. The few new elements that do make a statement—the light wood floors, floating white kitchen, and modernised bathroom—compliment the original building rather than detract from it.
The result is a light and airy interior space that perfectly pairs classic, modern, and regional design. The feat is not an easy one, and while SAN House may be minimal in look, the attention to detail and thoughtfulness of the design was anything but.
Six balconies and large windows to the street and inner courtyard draw plenty of natural light to SAN House. More than the light, the viewpoints also open the residence to the outside world: the views of the street provides a connection to the city centre, while views of the courtyard connect one with the centre of the building. It’s important to draw attention to these connections because SAN House is so much more than a single dwelling. As the building is historic in nature, and based on a regional style of architecture, SAN House is by proxy a representative of this history and regional design. It is crucial for modern structures to address their roots: SAN House does this both with its interior design and its connection to its surroundings.
As the design of SAN House was intended to be a blank canvas to display the traditional structure, it makes sense that the structure is what stands out most in the unit. Pillars of sandstone are the dominant feature of the exterior walls, while storied wooden beams crisscross the ceiling, providing structural support even still. The kitchen is particularly lovely: the soft white colour and floating cabinetry blend perfectly with the great room beyond.