Raúl Almenara isn’t just an architect. He’s also an artist and innovator and choreographer—if his latest project in Madrid’s El Rastro neighbourhood is anything to go by. Designed like a spiral monospace, the home revels in pirouetting forms, with dazzling curves demarcating one space from the next. Make no mistake, the dancerly flourishes are far from incidental: as the home of dancer, choreographer and director of the National Ballet of Spain, Antonio Najarro, the design was conceived to hold a mirror to its owner in every possible way.
When Raúl was tapped to facelift the newly built 80-square-metre house—composed of a bedroom, an office, a living room, a bathroom and a kitchen—he knew it wasn’t merely an architectural undertaking. Rather, it was a glorious opportunity to marry dance and design (he is also a graduate in fine arts)—two interests he was dying to manifest as one. Antonio, on his part, was open to risks.
His only caveat? That there be lots of cheer and lots of colour. The idea of a monospace, then, with curves standing in for walls, seemed like a feat worth attempting. After all, it was the closest thing to dance that Raúl could manifest through design.
“The house echoes the movements and costumes of traditional dancers on a stage. The spiral is emblazoned with fluted ceramic tiles that look like the folds of the skirts and fringes of the Manila shawls,” says Raúl, who founded his eponymous studio in 2016.
With each step, the spiral reveals something new, marking a curvilinear progression from the common areas to the private realms. At each successive point, an unseen space steps out: first, a dining room with ultramarine tiles and pink-tinted cabinets, then a living area with a Tokyo chaise longue by Charlotte Perriand for Cassina and a ceramic lamp by Casa Josephine.
At the heart of the spiral is the bathroom, the home’s innermost sanctum, which serves as an imaginary axis, just like the gyrating costumes of the dancers that inspire it. For an apartment that appears to shapeshift with each step, one thing is clear: here, design and dance permanently share the spotlight.
[Images courtesy of Raul Almenara. Photography by Asier Rua.]