Starting from a rectangular plot with a generous building ratio and urban codes that demand building along the perimeter, leaving scarce room to move, the initial objective of this proposal was to organize the volumes in such a way that the structure would not seem oppressive, thus freeing up part of the surface on street level. With these considerations, the design consists of a long and taut piece placed along the perimeter, so defining the street; the apartments are accessed through a gallery. Placed perpendicular to this volume are the taller volumes though of smaller capacity and containing a different housing type, with a vertical communication core that serves two dwellings. Lastly, and inside the garden is another lower block, underneath, which the parking area is located.
The housing unit that composes the whole complex is a unique type, characterized by scarce dimensions and for being conceived for rent by young people, with a possible purchase option later on. Though there are three different floor plan types, in every case there are mobile partition walls to make space organization flexible, minimizing the circulation spaces and concentrating as much surface as possible in the living room.
In the exterior areas, sustainability criteria determine the way in which the facades open up to light and protect themselves from the sun. But the whole complex is wrapped up in a sort of ‘wallpaper’ with identical openings, which hints at the flexible interior organization of the dwellings. Without any conspicuous expressive elements, the facade is protected with sliding shutters that give the building a changing expression.
Shape and volume
The General Urban Development Plan was strictly considered and respected, resulting in an interesting reinterpretation of the city ordinance, making the closed block plan compatible with a more effective use of the site. The project accepts the distribution of the given volumes and enhances their clearness using a simple and neutral style. The use of a limited number of opening types, which are apparently distributed randomly, provides a strong abstract and neutral character to the building.
The courtyard in the urban block
The generous dimensions of the courtyard of the urban block asks for a project characterized by its delicate approach at the ground floor level. The transversal disposition of the car park is used to establish two clearly differentiated zones: over it, on its roof, a great paved surface with intensive use, whereas the rest of the space is solved with soft floor finishes and intensive planting of medium and big scale indigenous trees. Furthermore, the slight alterations on the horizontal plane are reinterpreted with small hills, which recreate a simple and varied interior landscape with low vegetation. The continuous and wavy soft surfaces are covered with lavender, thyme and rosemary, which require little water for maintenance, and with winding compacted earth paths.
The different apartment types
A small apartment is not a reduced version of a bigger one. Its dimensions determine a new type of housing unit, essentially different to the conventional social housing examples. The young and homogeneous users and their also homogeneous and singular relation with the owner of the apartment (units for rent with future buying possibilities) also determines and modifies the conventional elements that are often used for the construction of this type of buildings.
Thereby, the flexibility in the distribution of the different elements, using moveable panels or sliding partition walls, the minimized circulation spaces achieved by concentrating the maximum surface possible in the living-dining area and the possibility of visually linking the kitchen to the living-dining room were features present in the basis of the design.
The kitchens are well ventilated, 100% of them have openings to the exterior as well as the indispensable forced ventilation mechanisms. They can be (or not) considered integrated kitchens so that their disposition allows the kitchen space to be visually connected (or not) to the living-dining room.
The current apartment is also, in many occasions, a small office. The distribution of the second bedroom allows it to be also used as a small study, linked or not to the living-dining area.
The project looks for the maximum clarity hence the segregation of the day and night areas and the enrichment of a flexible distribution system with small intermediate spaces that link the different areas of each apartment, making the most of its typological possibilities.
The complex includes a space for community use (for kid’s parties, meetings, etc.) located on the north block. The entryways, high and well sunlit, are inviting spaces for communal activities.
- Location: Carabanchel, Madrid
- Site area: 10.762,99 m²
- Built area: 12.298,55 m²
- Client: Agencia de Vivienda Social de la Comunidad de Madrid
- Architects: Francisco Burgos & Ginés Garrido / BGAA
- Design Team: Emilio Ontiveros, Almudena Carro, Agustín Martín, Pilar Recio, Samir Alaouim, Raquel Marugán, Cristina Cordero
- Date: 2010-2015
- Photographic credits: Ángel Baltanás, María Roldán