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Gridded house wears structure on its sleeve


Green grid on outside of house. Mariela Apollonio

Some architecture seeks to hide its structural framework. Others, like this eye-popping home in Santa Barbara, Spain, boldly displays its gridded frame on both the exterior and interior.

Spanish studio Space Popular Architects brought the home’s steel frame to the forefront and painted it an unmissable shade of green.

Vaulted brick ceiling in home with pale wood floors and big windows Mariela Apollonio

The grid creates 12 by 12 foot quadrants that evoke a cage-like structure. The white, boxed living spaces appear to slot into some of the vacant cubes, while others hold terraces or remain empty, as if someone came along and popped a module out of place. The architects intentionally avoided concrete because of its heavy carbon footprint, instead opting for light brick, which arches into vaulted ceilings.

Exposing the 4-inch thick steel frame is both an aesthetic statement and a clever conceit for showing off the inner workings of the house. “It’s really important, even if you’re not paying attention to it, to have a sense of how the space you’re in was made,” Space Popular cofounder Fredrik Hellberg told An Interior. “It’s not about being 100 percent truthful, but it is about communicating a structure at all levels.”

View of kitchen from hallway next to stairs Mariela Apollonio
Stairway landing Mariela Apollonio
Bedroom with door open to terrace Mariela Apollonio
Terrace surrounded by green steel grid Mariela Apollonio