Palma de Mallorca

Can Santacilia is a residential project of 3300 m2 with 15 dwellings and common areas. It is a careful renovation of two buildings located in the heart of the old town of Palma de Mallorca.

The main building appears in the records of the city since 1576 as Can Santacilia although its origin dates back to the 12th or 13th century. As we know it today, it was built in the 17th century and reformed in the 18th century. It also underwent modifications in the last century aimed at the division and conversion into several dwellings, leaving it very altered. Its courtyard is not in good condition but its structure is worth restoring and its main façade towards Tagamanent square preserves part of the 18th century decoration. The building has a history of more than 400 years, we found it largely modified and undermined. The first challenge is that of historical responsibility, which lies in the investigation of the different interventions over time to discover, recover and enhance the main architectural elements and spaces. It is not a question of erasing and hiding all the alterations that have occurred throughout its history but rather to recover its splendour. In order to recover an ideal past, that we cannot know exactly, it is a matter of discovering different stages and interventions, recognising elements of value in each one of them.

In order to make this operation efficient and to integrate the building back into the city´s fabric , it is essential to update its spaces and their use for the 21st century.

On the one hand, a modern, comfortable residential building is required, with all the services and facilities in keeping with a contemporary lifestyle. On the other hand, we are faced with a complex and divided structure, difficult to fit out, with a 17th century façade and volume, protected and extremely rigid and difficult to modify.

OHLAB’s renovation project takes advantage of the complexity of the existing building as a potential to generate unexpected spaces where each dwelling is totally different. The project resolves each dwelling with an individualised and unique distribution. The solutions in turn converts the entire building into a project that bases its uniqueness on the recovery of the historical essence of the building and the commitment to contemporaneity.

The selection of natural, noble, local materials, emphasising the history of the building and the Mediterranean essence, has been very important. A simple palette of natural materials is continued throughout the project. It combines the restoration of historical elements such as wooden carpentry and mouldings, stone and wood structural elements, plaster mouldings and wood coffered ceilings, mortar and lime cladding, ceramic, stone and wooden floors and wrought ironwork among many others. These materials are combined with the introduction of new noble materials such as antique bronze pieces, local stones, mirrored cloths, porcelain details, local linen and cotton textiles.

The project recovers the entrance courtyard that had been altered in the reforms of the last century, restoring the old splendour of this element so deeply rooted in the typology of noble dwellings in Palma’s old quarter. The courtyard becomes the main entrance to the heart of the building, communicating with the landscaped terraces upwards and with the communal areas such as a gym and an indoor swimming pool with a spa that directly overlooks the courtyard.

A second inner courtyard has also been recovered as a garden for one of the dwellings and five terraces for different dwellings from which one can enjoy the view over the rooftops of the city.

Despite the building regulations of a historical renovation in a listed building, the project has been designed from the outset with sustainability parameters to maximise its energy efficiency. This has been achieved by increasing thermal insulation and  taking care of thermal bridges throughout its envelope and by using an efficient centralised air-conditioning system.

Completion date: spring 2021.

Architecture and interior design: OHLAB / oliver hernaiz architecture lab
Team OHLAB: Paloma Hernaiz, Jaime Oliver with Rebeca Lavín, Robin Harloff, Maria Bruna Pisciotta, Mercé Solar, Luis Quiles, Silvia Morais, Ángela Suárez, Wiktoria Ginter, Camila Ospina, Pedro Rodríguez, Laura Colomer, Eusebiu Spac, Agustín Verdejo.
Building engineer: Jorge Ramón
Structural Engineering consultant: AMM Technical group
Facilities Engineering: AMM Technical group