The Impractical Side Of Spanish Architects

Published on 30/07/2007 in Your Spanish Home

Spain, land of the short, slim, fearless, patient, minimalist with one child who won‘t eat anything which has been cooked from frozen. Where am I getting this from? The designs of new build properties where gardens are a luxury and strictly the reserve of those spending in excess of four hundred thousand euros. I wonder how many of the architects have actually attempted to live in  any of the apartments that they have designed?  Perhaps I missed a warning sign somewhere stating that these properties are not designed to be lived in but serve only as a place to warm up food and sleep.

And what is it with the pointless bit of terrace outside your bedroom? It is true that you do spend more time outside during the summer but you cannot possibly sit on all three terraces at once. Couldn’t we make better use of that space inside the house or apartment? Surely, I am not the only one that needs one large terrace instead of three miniscule ones. Wouldn’t that space have been better used as storage cupboards? Storage cupboards don’t seem to feature on the minimalist developers list of priorities. There are no cupboards under the stairs or little nooks and crannies in these mainly square, box like rooms. Fitted wardrobes lack depth and shelves and a trip to IKEA is worth while to modify them internally.

So your things, where do you put your things? I mean, I loathe junk and I am frequently clearing out stuff for the charity shop but I still have things. At the risk of sounding hard, I even bin some of my kids drawings and just keep a selected special few in a folder. I don’t think I own any clothes older than two years old and yet I struggle for space. Forget about buying your children toys for Christmas as there is barely any space for their current lot. There’s no stuffing them in the loft with the hope of one day bringing them down to scour through on sentimental trips down memory lane on rainy Sunday afternoons. The Spanish don’t do lofts. It is not unusual to see a house for sale at over half a million euros without a garage or store room. So where do they put that stuff that’s still needed but just not needed everyday. You know, the bikes, the deck chairs, the Christmas tree. Where are they hiding it all and am I missing something that is common knowledge?

For a nation known for its love of eating good food, their kitchens fail to reflect this. They are for the most part tiny and it is not unusual to find bigger bathrooms than kitchens in some apartments. However, a big bathroom doesn’t always mean a big bath. In our house my partner at six feet tall can’t enjoy the luxury of a lie back relaxing bath and I can just about stretch out at five feet five. And if you buy off plan and your house comes with a fitted kitchen, think yourself lucky as it isn’t always standard and you often have to fit your own .If you are one of the lucky ones with the fitted kitchen inclusive then you can bet your life that they installed the cheapest washing machine with a drum the size of an egg cup and a fridge freezer with space enough for a couple of boxes of fish fingers.

As for the cupboards, you can only have what you need and no extra for special occasions. Three pots, six plates, six cups, six bowls….Are you getting my drift?  Although, they often install a dishwasher, they are purely for decorative purposes as a sign that you are living in the 21st century. The tried and tested method of dishwashing by hand is still very much de riguer with the handy little drying rack in the cupboard over the sink indicative of this. Er, wouldn’t this cupboard be better used as proper storage space?  The current trend in the UK is to practically live in the kitchen whether it be a family room with a large seating area for children to do colouring in or play games or an area for your guests to sit and chat with you while you cook. The kitchen has such a functional role. Instead, they give us lounge/diners, so seventies! What is a host or hostess to do? Allow themselves to be relegated to the tiny steamy kitchen whilst the guests wait or just say “what the hell, let’s go out to eat!”

Well, considering that many buyers along the coasts in Spain are British and there is a lot of competition out there, they don’t appear to do any research into what the Brits want from a home. They are expected to take what’s given. Don’t they ever seek the advice of a British consultant? How can they be so complacent to continue with the same designs and predictable layouts when people are struggling to sell similar properties?

Everyone goes on about how much choice there is. This is a myth when nearly all the apartments and houses are identical inside.   In fact, I am yet to come across a property that has been designed realistically with lifestyle in mind. Not to mention safety as fire alarms aren’t installed, neither are bars on easy access windows. Many locks on bathroom doors cannot be opened from the outside and many a fire has been started from people leaving things on the hob an a toddler coming along and switching it on. Yet they continue to throw them up with their sole intention to maximise profits and fast. But with the slowing down of the market, surely they will have to take note and start building practical, safe properties inline with the demands of buyers in the 21st century.

Written by: Susan Pedalino

About the author:

Women In Spain

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toto99 said:
02 August 2007 @ 12:37

Its very very true, have lived in spain for a few years now and am constantly sending stuff to the charity shops. I shopped arround when we bought, having rented a number of apartmemnts while here, knew what I wanted, storage and an east fasing terrace, thank full I got a bargin and 2 bed 2.5 bathrooms, the .5 is now a store room and 3 terraces that I have which are more than ample will soon house a hot tub ohn one terrace and a shed on the back one for additional space. My kitchen is a decent size. Thank god although there is never enough cupboard space!!!!!!!!

midasgold said:
31 July 2007 @ 11:02

I am fortunate enough to live in a villa of 200m plus BUT this also has the same layout and space problems as per Susan's blog.
Yes - I agree some 21st C design is now required.

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