Friday, 3 June 2011

living the high life - by Theo

Go to any city in Spain and high-rise, high-density living abounds. Our current apartment block is quite small, having only five floors - our first flat in Madrid (in Mendez Alvaro) was on floor 6 of 9. Naturally, therefore, the Spanish have evolved several unique adaptations for this.

The first concerns furniture removal. As many, if not most, of the stairwells and lifts of Madrid's older buildings are too narrow to accommodate large items of furniture, those who don't want to get a flat-pack from IKEA have to employ a specialist removals company. These guys raise up the wardrobe or double bed on a massive lift that resembles a fireman's ladder outside the building and in through the windows. Whenever I see one I always wish I had my camera on me.

Not everyone uses ladders though. Often when a job is too small to really need scaffolding you see workmen abseiling down the sides of buildings rather than trying to prop up a ladder in among all the washing lines festooning the walls.

Meanwhile, indoors, the residents of these high-rises make adaptions and alterations just like their ground-floor living neighbours. Having no garden in which to build a conservatory hasn't stopped them - they just build one (of sorts) by covering over the ubiquitous terrazas. A range of styles is available, as can be seen from our bedroom window. Our flat used to have two terrazas, but the back one has been converted into a kind of utility room/storage space, while the front one has been covered over to add an extra 6m2 or so to our living room. Which is a bit of a shame as it would have been nice to have had a little terrace of our own to sit out on during hot summer evenings - oh well, I guess we'll just have to go to a bar. Que pena!

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