Silvio Gueilburt specializes in hospital design in Argentina, but when he was given the opportunity to transform a defunct factory into a home for a professional couple, the commission was too good to pass up.

Located adjacent to the clients' home in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, the former shoe factory sat unused for a number of years. Avid swimmers, the two had plenty of ideas for the property, so when it came on the market they snapped it up. First, they built an 18-foot-by-82-foot swimming pool to the rear of the factory. Eventually, they decided to make the reinforced concrete building their permanent home.

“The swimming pool was one of the first elements in the project, so the rest of the home revolved around it,” Gueilburt says. He means this literally and figuratively. The architect excavated around the pool and incorporated the ground floor of the existing structure into the new design. He inserted a kitchen in the rear and created an adjoining courtyard with a laundry room and bathroom. A new section houses additional bedrooms.

The first level is dominated by the swimming pool, living room, and dining room, which coexist in one dramatic space. As a whimsical touch, the architect installed a fabric rope for swinging into the pool; for safety, he also installed a net and aluminum rails to prevent visitors from falling in. “The owners cover the pool only when their grandchildren visit the house,” the architect explains. To maintain the open feel of the interior, Gueilburt kept the existing skylights that bring sunlight to the second-level master bedroom, but he inserted a glass catwalk to filter light into the living area below.

Because of a slim budget, Gueilburt's materials choices were limited “to the noblest and most durable possible,” he says, so he opted for concrete, painted epoxy floors, glass, and aluminum panels. Surprisingly, a slim budget was not the architect's greatest constraint. “Time was the biggest challenge,” he says. “It only took us five months of remodeling.” But Gueilburt is pleased with the outcome. The compelling part, he says, was “keeping the spirit of the factory and adapting it to a house.”

project: Splash, Buenos Aires, Argentina

architect/general contractor: Silvio Gueilburt and Carlos Rousso, Buenos Aires

project: 3,424 square feet

site size: 0.12 acre

construction cost: $35 per square foot

photography: Daniela Mac Adden/surpressagency.com