When Madrid-based design practice Murado & Elvira Architects won a competition to turn the ancient Sancti Spiritus Hospital into the Public Library and Historic Archive for the Spanish city of Baiona, they wanted the renovation to focus on the concept of hospitality. In contrast to the historic stone and plaster facade that was left in place, the architects transformed the interior with maple wood volumes to create a sense of coziness and comfort. Eight years in the making, the 1.5-million Euro adaptive reuse project was completed in March of this year.

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Located in the historic city center, the 17th-century Sancti Spiritus Hospital is protected under Bien de Interés Cultural status; however, the building suffered major alterations over the years, including the destruction of its interior in the 1970s. Instead of merely renovating the structure, Murado & Elvira Architects also worked to return parts of the building back to their historic roots. The interior, though, was given an entirely new identity organized around a thick stone wall that recalls the building’s original construction. All the rooms are wrapped in warm maple plywood, which was also used for the furnishing.

hallway ground floor

children's library

“When we first visited the old building we felt the need for our project to create a new interior identity, connecting and giving continuity to the old structures,” say Clara Murado and Juan Elvira of the two-story renovation. “The building could be understood as a solid stone plinth and a wooden fitment on top of it. The library becomes a furniture to be inhabited. We always had in mind the studio of Saint Jerome in Antonello da Messina’s painting where the whole studio seems to be built around the book.”

inner facade

study booth

Related: An old London chapel is reborn into a modern home and artist studio

The library’s interior layout was also informed by the historical sequence of rooms. The Historic Archive, the children’s library, and the service rooms dominate the ground floor. The children’s library also opens up to a courtyard space. Three stairs lead up to the upper floor where the main reading room, individual study alcoves, bathrooms, offices and bench reading rooms are located.

+ Murado & Elvira Architects

Images via Imagen Subliminal