So-called “rational architecture” has no place at Barcelona firm TAKK. In fact, the architecture studio’s co-founders, Mireia Luzárraga and Alejandro Muiño, are on a mission to challenge the sacred manifestos of modernists like Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier. “They claimed that ornamentation was a crime — a ‘female’ thing — and that we have to create spaces that are white, pure and clean,” says Luzárraga. “We ask people to reconsider their intention, which we believe was not so innocent.”
Using soft surfaces, pastel colours and craft production techniques, Luzárraga and Muiño push back against accepted ideas of “tasteful” decoration. After meeting as co-workers at a Madrid firm and becoming life partners, the duo struck out on their own in 2010. Since then, they have designed dozens of avant-garde pavilions and installations for biennials and cultural institutions across Europe.
Each one begins as a clean, geometric base structure formed with CNC machines but ends up covered in organic, tactile flourishes fabricated with everything from foam and textiles to hardware-store supplies and “kindergarten” materials.
Many of these wild compositions speak to social and environmental issues. Case in point: Picnic, introduced in the vineyards of La Rioja. “We decided to celebrate not just humans but all species in this rich ecosystem, with water and feeding receptacles and flowers that could be pollinated,” explains Luzárraga. “It was a comment on food sovereignty.”
Meanwhile, Winter Bedroom — a cozy, igloo-like environment made from recycled foam and synthetic fur — explores the idea of self-contained sleeping quarters. “We built it in our own home, which is a 400-square-metre industrial space,” says Luzárraga. “Our daughter needed a more isolated place to sleep, so we built one using insulation material.” In general, TAKK believes our approach to bedrooms needs a rethink. “Apartments are getting smaller, yet their commercial value lies in their number of bedrooms. We end up with four bedrooms in 40 square metres! My daughter’s pediatrician says that she must sleep in her own room to develop autonomy, but I think this belief is purely cultural.”
The two see benefits to closer cohabitation with the animal world, too. “In Galicia, where Alejandro is from, there are stables for animals built directly under the floor of the home,” says Luzárraga. “By using porous materials, the heat from the animals seeps through to create warmth.” TAKK adapted this tradition for its first residential project, a radical transformation of an apartment belonging to Luzárraga’s brother. Divided into warm- and cold-weather areas, the unit perches its bedroom on stilts so that pets can snuggle beneath. It’s a promising demonstration of how the pair’s conceptual exercises can thrive in the domestic sphere, too. And with several more residential projects on the horizon, it seems it won’t be the last.
The Barcelona firm questions the canon of modernism with wild pavilions and a radical apartment redesign.