Last December, Erica and I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in Barcelona, tacking a low-season vacation onto a lecture at the Centre De Cultura Contemporanea De Barcelona. It was one of the best trips of my life.
The city itself is amazing, of course, and now one of my favorite places in the world. We ate great food, saw great art and architecture, hung out with fascinating people and explored cool projects, like the Bicing bike sharing system.
But one reason why the trip was so much fun was the way Petz Scholtus and Sergio Carratalá Lamarca welcomed us to the city, not only taking us to great out-of-the-way restaurants and wine bars, but inviting us to hang at their sweet apartment in the Barri Gòtic. So I was pleased as punch to see this good write-up of the sustainability remodel Petz and Sergio did on their pad.
Rents were high, but purchase prices in the Barri Gòtic, where the newest buildings date from the 18th century and require extensive renovation, were relatively low. Still, this apartment, which Ms. Scholtus bought for 235,000 euros in 2006 (just under $300,000), was hardly a steal: it had no plumbing, no electricity; no glass in its windows; the toilet was in a closet on the terrace; and what would become the bedroom was closed off by a bearing wall (the only entrance was from the terrace). The massive ceiling beams were pocked from wood lice and encrusted with paint in many colors, layered in over the centuries. ...
Ms. Scholtus’s dining room table is a glass slab she found in the rubble of her apartment. “The workers kept complaining that it was too big to remove,” she said. So she found trestles on the street, painted them and placed them under the slab to make a table. Dismantled wine boxes await deployment as the doors to her Ikea kitchen cabinets; ancient drawers rescued from the street, which smell of incense — “I think they must have come from a church,” Ms. Scholtus said, wrinkling her nose — sit on casters and hold magazines.
If you wonder what can be done with an old apartment and new ideas, check it out!