Preexistences The site is located on the east vertex of “La Clota” park, on the north edge of Barcelona. It’s located in a transition area with a considerable slope, inbetween the consolidated tissue of the city and Tibidabo hillside, originally occupied by a few housing blocks built during the migratory movements of the 50’s and consolidated as a facilities area during the beginning of the 90’s for the olympic gamesThe plot is a 3.500m2 trapezoidal shape with a 3,5 meters gap on the short axis and mainly horitzontal on the long one.
It has an excelent south-east orientation and it has some impressive views of Barcelona with “La Clota” park in first termThe project has to solve a program of 6500m2 of social housing with 85 dwelings for eldery people, 4 special dwelings for handicap people (with independent acces), and parking space for 28 cars. There are also 2000m2 of public facilities with a civical center. Main strategies(1) The building looks for the best orientation for the dwelings. Over 90% of the dwelings benefit from South-East orientation. That means a great confort for the inhabitants and a high degree of energy saving either in ilumination or climatizacion of the dwelings(2) The housing units bars are concentrated on the north perimeter of the plot so the most of the land it’s available to build the civical center as it keeps the best orientation and views. The building keeps a low profile of 3 stories to integrate into the neighborhood.
(3) The topographical gap is solved with the parking space and the civical centrer volume. It’s roof is understood as a fifth façade of the building. It’s treated with a painted tennis-quick finish similar to the sportive pavement used in the urbanization of the near park. The civical center is competely open on ground floor showing it’s public caracter to the street.It becomes an activity generator that bring life to all the surroundings (4) The building has a mix of passive and active system to ensure a good climatic behavior and energy saving strategies, such as good south east orientation for dwellings, cross ventilation, deep terraces that protects users from excessive sunlight radiation in summer but act as energy space collectors on winter, increased insulation on roofs, water management strategies and a central heating and hot water production system with solar contribution (35% of CO2 emission savings)
(5) The building makes an exercise of economic containment. White and void are the only materials used for the composition of the facade. Taking advantage of Mediterranean benevolent climatic conditions terraces function as condensers of activity enhancing the sense of community of the users. It is the place where domestic and civic activities occurs and are shown to the city. They are like the central courtyard of the houses of the Algerian Kashba but placed in a vertical plane. The size (2,5×2,5×2,5) of those voids goes beyond the scale of housing units and speaks on a level closer to the scale of the building and the city. Each user takes possession of its own place in a different way. The set of all those different actions and activities are integrated into the building volume due to the inner position of the terrace. The repetition of the void turns the facade into a chess texture. The white background unifies it all as does the snow fallen on the landscape.
Typology: Housing unitThe project is solved majorly with the repetition of a 45m2 unit. The endings of the building are solved either with vertical communications or with a second unit type with its own particular conditionsThe structure draws a regular grid of 7×5.5m that fits the size of the unit. The pillars are retreated 2,5m from the facade to avoid thermal loses through the structureThe program is disposed through the climatic recognition of the site: The services areas (corridor(5), maintenance(6), bath(7) ,kitchen(8) and dressing (9)) are located to the north while all the relation areas are located to the south.The plan layout tries to create the longest interior diagonals possible so the space is perceived in its maximal length. The position of the fridge partly conceals the kitchen and allows the placement of a dining table. The strategically position of the terrace (12) allows the bed room (11) to slide respect the living room (10) and becomes an exterior extension of the unit. The setback geometry of the façade generates deep terraces that protect the interior space from the excessive solar radiation without blocking the amazing views that the site has. Façade compositionThe building is designed under a strong economical constrain. Shape is a direct consequence of the application of the main implantation strategies on the site. White and void are the only materials being used for façade composition.
Taking advantage of the Mediterranean climate, each unit is provided with a large terrace that organizes the program of the space. This terrace is understood as an empty space, an excavation of the white mass of the building volume. Its size exceeds the scale of the apartment inside and establishes direct dialogue with the rest of the building as well as the city. The units alternate floor to floor, thus forming across the façade a staggered chessboard pattern of white and black that cloaks the building in a distinctive texture.
Users These terraces condense the life inhabiting them. They expose the domestic activities of the users to the city beyond, like the central courtyard of the houses of the Algerian Kashba translated onto the vertical plane. Each user makes the space their own. The collection of actions and activities of the inhabitants remains integrated in the volume of the building through the interior position of the terrace. The architecture is saturated with daily life, and shows itself to the city as such. White covers everything, from the individual curtains to the façade as a whole, unifying the building like the snow on the distant horizon.
Sustainability : Passive Systems Orientation Building orientates to south. 90% of housing units get optimal solar gains through all the year. Reducing both thermal and lighting needs of the inhabitants
Solar Protection Terraces behaves as big solar diaphragms. In winter, when solar incidence is lower, housing units are naturally heated during morning time because of solar radiation. However, in summer, because of the deep of the terraces, housing units are protected from excessive solar radiation
Isolation improvement Thermal isolation is reinforced on facades, achieving a 30% reduction of heat transmission.
Water management Rain water is collected separately and canalized to general sewage independently, so it can be directly used to water the surrounding parks and gardens. All sanitary components have water reduction systems installed
Sustainability: Active Systems Heating and hot water production Building has a centralized solar heating and hot water production unit. This is a good strategy on senior housing blocks, where is not advisable, because of safety issues to have gas powered individual solutions. This system is using solar thermal energy as its primary source, while gas is being used as a reinforcement energy source. This system provides up to 35% save in consumption needs of the building and up to 45% CO2 emission savings.
The installation has an internet management system that allows to control its behavior in real-time through a computer anywhere in the world and allows to get instant consumption reads both understanding the building as a whole or individually unit by unit. It also allows to control installation performance and detect possible malfunctions.
Counters are centralized floor by floor. However each user has its own thermostat and full control of the installation. Each user pays a fixed fee that includes both eating and hot water consumtion.
Sustainability: Economy Contention The whole building is understood as an economy contention exercice. Strategical position of both facilities and parking take advantage of the natural slope of the plot and it minimizes earth movements. Constructive techniques and materials are both local and very simple: reinforced concrete for the structures, ceramic walls for the facades, white cement plaster as finishing. Polished black stone as pavement. Gypsum boards as interior divisions..etc..
Repetition The project can be understood as a repetitive aggregation system based on housing unit. This allows cost optimization of interior and exterior elements. Everything is solved from the unit and then repeated 85 times. All doors, windows, baths, kitchens are equals.
Sustainability: Sociability There are many strategies implemented into the project to improve inhabitant’s sociability, which is really important when you are working on senior social housing. There is a communal area placed close to the entrance where all users can meet and where those who are responsible of the management of the building plan different activities. The proposal goes a step further and understands that terraces are social condenser machines, where all domestic and social activities are done and shown to the city.
Finally there is the public facility building placed at the ground floor. It operates in a bigger scale, affecting all the neighborhood, bringing life and activity to the building, and mixing itself with senior inhabitants. It’s a big social center where different activities are being held such as: kinder garden, kitchen workshops, internet, dancing classes, gymnastics…etc..
Construction techniques Foundation The project solves the main existing gap of 3,5 meters following natural slope downhill, with a concrete contention wall close to Can Travi street. The foundation of the housing building is solved with a 70cm thick concrete slab. The facilities building is solved with superficial concrete slabs.
Structure The project is solved with a regular grid of concrete columns of 7 x 5,5 meters and concrete slabs. The columns are placed 2,5 meters inside the perimeter of the slabs to avoid thermal problems and to balance the general structure
Roof For the housing units the roof is solved with a standard inverted solution, with light concrete for slopes, double waterproof membrane, 50mm expanded polystyrene thermal isolation and gravel. Solar panels are installed on top. For the facilities building the solution is the same but the gravel is changed by tennisquick, one porous agglomerate used to build the tennis courts so the finish is completely horizontal and optimal to be seen from all the terraces of the buildings. Its understood as the fifth façade. Façade The façades are done with brick walls and finished with white cement based plaster. Inside there is a mortar waterproofing membrane, 5cm thick rigid thermal insulation and double painted plasterboard as the interior finishing. To avoid thermal losses, sides of the slabs are lined with 3cm of rigid thermal insulation. This also works for the terraces, which are thermal insulated in the whole perimeter of the cube. All windows are done with aluminum anodized in natural color and glasses are double glazing. Solar protection brise-soleils are made with a central aluminum sub-structure and a double aluminum perforated sheet that prevents sun to get into the units.
Inside partitions All inside partitions are solved with double plasterboards walls with dry joints finished with painting. There is acoustical isolation inside all those walls. On the common areas there is a painted MDF as finish that camouflages all housing units door entrances and installations shafts, which are all accessible through the corridor.
Pavements All the Project is solved with polished black 30×30 stone slabs. Wrinkled stone slabs are placed on the terraces to prevent user to slide when it rains.
Photo © Adria Goula