When working on an existing building, prior to making any modifications, it is important to get an overview of the property. This starts with a study of its structural reinforcements, to identify any of the deteriorated elements and decide on the most efficient way to strengthen them. The execution of the demolition work, placement of new structural elements and classification of everything worth preserving should not be carried out until the building is unoccupied, so as to avoid risks related to these activities. However, this is not always possible – as was the case when we restored the ROC building, located in one of the most emblematic and photographed streets of the Gothic Quarter.
The first commission we had was to renovate one of the apartments. Completely deteriorated and unusable, it had to be adapted and updated to meet the needs of modern life. We thought that it was going to be a one-off project but it turned out to be the first of eight partial interventions (six residential and two business premises on the ground floor).
With the building fully operational, year after year we worked on the uninhabited spaces. We tore down the partitions that divided the impractical small rooms, repaired the cladding, filled in the cracks and restored the woodwork. On a case-by-case basis, we had to decide whether to reinforce the floor structure by intervening from the ceiling with steel structural reinforcements or from below with concrete slabs connected to the wooden beams. Deciding factors or priorities changed depending on each case. Sometimes the preservation of the floor tiles restricted our options, while other times the height of the room allowed us to use structural supports under the beams. As for the layout of the apartments and their finishings, there was considerable variation over the 6 years. All of them featured a daytime area connected to the narrow and picturesque Gothic street, with the bedrooms and bathrooms facing the interior of the property. Everything else varied in each intervention, essentially making the ROC building a laboratory of ideas for Nook Architects.