Melon District by Gus Wüstemann 2


Here are images of the student rooms and circulation at Melon District in Barcelona by architect Gus Wüstemann (see previous story).

Below are some notes about the project from Wüstemann:


"It is not a building but a district"

District is the way a human being lives in urban context.

We choose of the shelf low cost industrial materials to create these urban spaces. There is no hierarchy within these surfaces that makes it urban and authentic. Therefore each surface transmits a feeling of purity and coexistence in relation with its surrounding. The statics of Melon District are defined by the authenticity of the materials. There is no decoration.

An important actor in this context is the white floor: the main horizontal surface of the project which goes beyond its basic definition. So the white floor leaves its own physical contact and initiates a sacred walk throughout the district. It is a common industrial floor.

The Melon District Project can be seen as a mini urbanization like a small area of the city which contains the urban sculpture.

The urban sculpture is like a big stone containing all the public programs. Where the urban sculpture and the city of Barcelona meet, is the reception, entrance and exit of the district.

This urban sculpture connects all the levels of the district and it is the main reference for orientation.


Floor: white polyurethane
Wall: polycarbonate varnished with white grafisms (light), painted wall gold
color (kitchen), natural mortar
Ceiling: double ceiling plaster

The living room is the heart of each melon flat where the public life is taking place (eating, talking, relaxing...). It is the social hub.

We provide a free platform, cubing landscape, which you can use for whatever activity you would like at that time. The social exchange is the main idea of this heart.

The important element of the living room is the kitchen, which is a golden wall with an inox table in front of it.

In each level you recognize the heart, the living room by its golden walls.


Floor: white polyurethane
Wall: polycarbonate (light), natural concrete, varnished mortar,
painted wall gold color
Ceiling: double ceiling painted plaster silver color

We create an urban atmosphere by using rough plaster and urban light team situation like indirect cubic light and polycarbonate facades. Always recognizable in this context is the urban sculpture.


Floor: white polyurethane
Wall: polycarbonate (light), varnished plaster with white grafisms,
white painted plaster
Ceiling: double ceiling plaster ral color, varnished natural concrete

Each melon flat has 9 hotels rooms where people share like in the district. "This room, it is what you wanted to be"

The white floor, present in the all project leads you in your room right to the exterior facade. The room is defined by an interior and an exterior facade and a mini urban sculpture.

The interior facade contains the bathroom and floods the room with an atmospheric light. The exterior facade lets in the natural light trough its window. One natural wall is one big picture, varnished plaster, suggesting a big opening in the room. The rough and unfinished concrete ceiling stand for athenticity and purity.

The traces and marks of the execution are visible. The decoincidence of imperfectivity gives the space the unique character and stand for the absence of design. Absence of hierarchy and design.

The white mini urban sculpture organises the room. It is a table, seat, cupboards and shelves combining all the needs of the space and communicates with the bed. The space full stop.

Communicating with the mini urban sculpture, the bed can be put in two positions, creating different relations with the space.


Floor: varnished transparent natural mortar, wood IPE, sand with transparent polyurethane
Wall: varnished transparent mortar, wood IPE, sand with transparent
polyurethane, polycarbonate (light), natural concrete

The urban figure reaches its higher level in the swimming pool-terrace. An active but also relaxing space where a beach atmosphere is created by the palm trees, the sand surface and the wood floor around the swimming pool.

The swimming pool is the heart of the district at the same that the living room is the heart of each level. The swimming pool is an empty volume integrated in the concrete volume (urban figure) and in the wood volume.

The urban figure does not have a beginning or an ending. It is an element which participates in everything, a sculpture shaped by the life spaces of the district.


A series of spaces that flows together to become one continuous space without any seams. The light sculptures created by using polycarbonate and hidden fluorescents.

The use of the essence of each material to keep its original textures. If it is not possible for technical reasons, transparent varnish or white painting are used.

The essence Melon District is given by these three materials:

- the white polyurethane
- the translucent polycarbonate
- the concrete

The spaces are multifunctional. According to the moment, a space is used for an activity or another. For example:

The bed is the sofa
The desk space is the dressing space next to the bathroom
The kitchen space is the dining space
The dining space is the lounge space
The reception space is the public park space

studios (ground floor)

Floor: white polyurethane
Wall: polycarbonate (light), varnished plaster
white painted plaster
Ceiling: varnished natural concrete

Considering the room height of 4 meters on the ground floor at parallel, we design the bed as a furniture on a upper level, so we gain more living surface in the studios.

The table to study is facing the window (patio) and a part of it is movable, so you can displace it and create a meal situation.

Posted on Monday February 25th 2008 at 1:28 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • I’m glad that care has been taken for natural light and usage, but overall the space could have a lot more character and warmth. As a student I would opt not to live here.

  • eyeontheworld

    I should go to uni………..

  • alex

    i’d cry all night in those dorms

  • diana

    for use of such industrial materials i would say that the spaces are quite warm….what more do you want? fuzzy wallpaper and gold leaf ceilings? the student brings their own warmth to the room anyhow through the colour of their wardrobe and book spines which are on display to the room…isnt it great when a designer actually leaves the aesthetics of a space open, and to be completed by the occupant? as a space to be occupied i think it is quite successful…theres even ample and well planned storage space PROVIDED….a novelty in dorm design..the bed desk shelving is a great use of space.

  • khalid

    I agree with Diana. Its the “functioning aesthetics” that makes this residence so great, a term coined by the Eameses in their modernist houses.

  • Although I appreciate the thoughtful inclusion of storage into the rooms themselves and think that they’re successful, I find the common areas to be much less so. Instead of looking like an urban modern setting, they evoke a grim, faceless industrialism instead. In a school setting this doesn’t read as chic so much as harsh, cold and draining.

    Also the fact that the ceilings have been left untreated in the rooms themselves, doesn’t seem to be a designer feature as much as it seems cheap and that the room is unfinished (and not in a good way.)

  • Fling

    As a general comment, this type of post should generally be accompanied by some plans to describe the space in more detail: otherwise it remains on the level of a hip hotel brochure and thus the depth of comment is as superficial.

  • I looked at Melon District when I visited Barcelona. It is truly a revolutionary concept. Wustemann is an architect with imagination and talent who has had the courage to rethink the whole concept of student accommodation. I hope he now does the same thing with hotels.

  • The interior spaces seem a bit cramped, but the use of indirect lighting throughout is great. The unfinished concrete is not cheap, but rather a true to testament to Kahn’s brutalist ideology.

  • jed

    i love it but…. you never realise how much debris and crap your body and clothing deposit until you have a white floor. i have one in one 2 rooms of my house & never again!… and these white floored rooms are going to be inhabited by students? oh dear.

  • alice

    i love the appliane of really raw materials, but the constrast between the stained concrete and the ikea like white furniture is too much for me. ikea interior! why?!

  • Kim

    I think some of you might be missing the point. Melon District is a very cool and very cheap place to live, everything that a student would dream of. Wüstemann has brought stylish high-tech living to a demographic hitherto far removed from it, that is his revolution.

  • Valerie

    “It is not a building but a district”

    No, Mr Wüstemann, Poble sec, where the rather ugly, out of context façade of your building (I notice there is no photo of this in the report) has suddenly appeared, is a district, a community. Melon “district” was built at the expense of a historical old building demolished as a result of rampant real estate speculation in this wonderful old city, the architectural history of which some of us fight to protect.

    There are several areas in Barcelona, new developments (at the expense, alas, of industrial heritage) where the project would have fitted perfectly, if you like cold, characterless, shall we say, living quarters.

    And no, Kim, it is not “very cheap”, at least for Spanish students. Justification for demolition of the old school building was use of the land for a student residence, but the price is barely less, if not more than a normal hotel by the time you pay for sheets and towels (extra) and room cleaning (extra).

    Architects really must be held responsible for the social implications of their work, in this case another little attack on the cohesion of a real district community.

    I pass the invasive white light of the ground floor bar every day. It´s always empty.

  • feld

    just a general information, valerie, the facade of the building melon district was not designed by wüstemann. his office was responsible for the interior architecture.