Lluís Corbella & Marc Mazeres completed the design of Gracia, a private contemporary retreat in Barcelona, Spain. The architects say that before being acquired by the owners, the building housed a milk shop.

“Originally in this shop, milk and derivatives such as yogurt and cream were sold; there were cows in it as well,” Mazeres says. “So the starting point was a building totally abandoned, with its facades and roof in very bad condition. Heavy renovation actions were required.”

Some major architectural elements were preserved in the building, which has a living area of 2,950 square feet as well as a garage and patio. “During the construction process … the building was emptied of all old internal structures; only the facades, roof and a central wood pillar were left,” the architects say. “This pillar was, and still is, the only central support point of all the structure. Windows, openings and blinds feature efficient aluminum systems.

The space’s various platforms and levels create surprising visual links. The two upper levels can be accessed from both a metal staircase and a small elevator. The interior design is minimalist, with Scandinavian inspiration. Sprinkles of color, as well as elements of brick and wood, add charm and character. You might even say this home is the cream of the crop. [Photography: Lluís Corbella, Eva Cotman]