Studio Noju renovates apartment in brutalist Torres Blancas tower

Local firm Studio Noju has updated a two-storey Madrid apartment within the Torres Blancas high-rise with a renovation that remains “in constant dialogue” with the original apartment design.

Designed in 1961 by architect Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oíz, Torres Blancas is a 71-metre-high exposed concrete tower featuring cylindrical shapes that create bulbous balconies on its facade and curved rooms inside.

The cylindrical facade of Torres Blancas, a brutalist high-rise in Madrid
Studio Noju renovated the largest apartment in Torres Blancas

Studio Noju overhauled the 1040 unit – the brutalist building’s biggest apartment – to balance its history with contemporary design details, according to the firm.

“Our interior design proposal for the apartment takes inspiration from the original ideas that the architect came up with for the building,” studio co-founder Antonio Mora told Dezeen.

Inside-outside shot of the curvy apartment, with green tiles on the floor
Recovered terrace space is characterised by green tiles

A key part of the project involved expanding the apartment’s exterior area on the first floor from 15 to almost 80 square metres to create the amount of outdoor space that existed before multiple past renovations of the tower.

This expansion added terraces that are characterised by curved floor-to-ceiling glazing and slatted crimson shutters. These open onto gleaming green ceramic tiles that take cues from 1960s interiors and form built-in benches, fountains and planters that follow the terraces’ meandering contours.

Semi-circular foyer with red-wine panelling within Torres Blancas apartment
Visitors enter at a semi-circular foyer

“The outdoor spaces have been once again consolidated into a continuous terrace that follows the outline of the original plan,” explained Mora, who set up Studio Noju with Eduardo Tazón in 2020.

“There is a constant dialogue between many of the solutions we have proposed in the interior design of the apartment with those proposed more than 50 years ago by Sáenz de Oiza.”

White structural walls with yellow openings snaking round first floor of Unit 1040 apartment
White walls and ceilings create an airy open-plan first floor

Visitors enter the apartment at a semi-circular foyer featuring Segovia black slate and wine-red panelling – the same materials used in the building’s communal areas.

The open-plan ground floor is interrupted by snaking white structural walls, such as a partition in the living room that features repetitive circular openings.

Mint-green continuous countertop by Studio Noju in Torres Blancas
The kitchen was formed from a continuous countertop

A continuous custom-made countertop with a subtle green hue forms the kitchen area, which includes a statement bulbous sink that echoes Torres Blancas’ cylindrical facade.

Light reflects from the original glass-brick tinted windows and illuminates the smooth resin floor and metallic wall accents.

Floating staircase placed against oak panelling in apartment by Studio Noju
Studio Noju salvaged an original brass banister for the staircase

White geometric treads create a floating staircase with an original polished brass banister that leads to the first floor. Upstairs, a sequence of bedrooms is characterised by oak ceilings that contrast with the bright white ceilings on the ground floor.

Each bathroom is playfully colour-coded with individual mosaics of bright tiles, complete with sconce lights, mirrors and cabinetry that follow the rounded shapes found throughout the apartment.

Amber light shining through original windows in apartment bathroom designed by Studio Noju
Each bathroom has colour-coded tiles

“The [mosaic] material allowed us to solve all the elements of the bathroom such as shower areas, vanities, walls and floors, referencing a similar material strategy used in the original design,” said Mora.

Adjacent to the main bedroom, the first-floor terrace includes a large green tile-clad outdoor bathtub cloaked in a sheer curtain, which is flanked by plants that were positioned to absorb the water produced by bathing.

“The element that we are most proud of is the feeling of a house-patio that has been recovered in the apartment,” reflected Mora.

“The unit once again revolves around the exterior spaces, and these seem to blend with the interior through the curved traces of green tiles that enter and exit the living room and dining area,” added the architect.

“Our biggest challenge was striking a balance between honouring the building, but at the same time imbuing the interior design with our language.”

Outdoor green tile-clad bathtub on terrace in Torres Blancas building
The first floor terrace features an outdoor bathtub

Studio Noju showcased a similar colourful style in its debut project, which involved the renovation of an open-plan Seville apartment.

Torres Blancas was among the buildings captured by photographer Roberto Conte in his series of brutalist buildings in Madrid.

The photography is by José Hevia

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