Movie with David Kohn on Carrer Avinyó at Inside Festival | interiors

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"There was all this potential but it was being held back by the architecture"

Movie: architect David Kohn explains how his studio transformed a neglected Barcelona apartment into World Interior of the Year 2013 in this exclusive video interview Dezeen filmed at Inside Festival in Singapore.

Carrer Avinyó by David Kohn Architects

Carrer Avinyó by London studio David Kohn Architects, which won the residential category as well as the overall prize at this year's Inside Festival, is a renovated apartment in a triangular block in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter.

Carrer Avinyó by David Kohn Architects

"The apartment is in a nineteenth-century apartment block on a very cute corner, but it was in a pretty poor state of repair," Kohn explains.

"It was subdivided into many small rooms so there was no gathering space, nor was there any sense of this rather unusual triangular plan and it's relationship to the city."

"There was all this potential, but it was all held back by the architecture."

Carrer Avinyó by David Kohn Architects

To rectify this, Kohn's studio stripped away most of the apartment's internal partitions, creating an open-plan living space to make the most of the large windows and high ceilings.

"We wanted to change the apartment to focus on the pleasure of gathering," explains Kohn. "The architecture of the apartment now is about creating the right setting for that kind of social encounter."

Carrer Avinyó by David Kohn Architects

Two of the bedrooms are contained within a wooden tower at one end of the apartment, which Kohn describes as "a kind of scale replica" of a 1950s apartment block by Spanish architect Josep Antoni Coderch in the La Barceloneta neighbourhood of the city.

"The bedrooms in this tower block have louvred windows so when you want to go to bed you can close the building," he says.

Carrer Avinyó by David Kohn Architects

The apartment's most striking feature is its tiled floor, which is made up of 25 different triangular designs.

"We basically did research on how we can make a tiled floor using traditional technologies that would be affordable for this project, but introduced something new," says Kohn.

"We asked Mosaics Martí, who made all the tiles, to use varying amounts of green and red pigment. Now you see it laid, the apartment has a graded floor that goes from green at one end to red."

Carrer Avinyó by David Kohn Architects

Kohn says that the transformation has been received well by the clients, two brothers who grew up in Barcelona but now live in London and Hong Kong.

"The clients love it because because their lives were very pragmatic in the way they used the flat," he says.

"What we were able to reintroduce into their lives was a pleasure of being in this interior, celebrating their time in Barcelona."

David Kohn
David Kohn

Inside Festival 2013 took place at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore from 2-4 October. The next Inside Festival will take place at the same venue from 1-3 October 2014. Award entries are open February to June 2013.