El Roure Centre and La Ginesta Library
Nominated to the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award 2015.
The community centre El Roure and the library La Ginesta are a mix cultural facility which includes a community centre with a multipurpose theatre and a municipal library as a result of a joint work among technicians, administration and citizens. Fully integrated into its surroundings, the centre is a social and cultural catalyst which enhances a natural space by the landscape recovering of Begues Stream and of a downy oak which names the centre.
Conceptual overall decisions and formal aspects
Begues, a municipality located in Garraf Natural Park, required a library, a community centre and a multipurpose theatre. To carry out the project, in which several local organisations and three different administrations are participating, a triangular plot which goes along the edge of Begues Stream was arranged.
The design process has crystallised a chain of synergies among organisations, administrations, technicians, citizens and the place itself. It began with the definition of an agreed and adequate functional programme and it culminated in the name's choice by the citizens of Begues and the cataloguing process of a downy oak for its cultural value.
Two main ideas underpin the conception of the new facility: to generate a confluence "inner square" and to tune into the environment revitalising the Stream.
The “inner square”:
The project outlines a single building which gathers the three services, creating a community space, a place where people meet, which will enhance citizen interaction, cultural synergy and sustainability in its construction and management. The architecture that hosts a facility of this kind should be diverse and pluricentric in order to support a wide variety of users and foreseen activities, but it must also have the ability to strengthen and harmonise the relationship between organisations and users. The architectural project begins with the definition of a foundation core, an agora able to attract and articulate around all areas defined in the functional programme, a place where all users can identify themselves as belonging to it.
To tune into the environment revitalising the Stream:
The triangular plot is located at the bottom of a hill covered with pine trees and bordered by two streets on its minor sides and by Fonda Stream (specifically on the flood limit drawn up by the Catalan Water Agency) on its major side.
The building accepts the limits of the plot as its own and occupies the entire place to achieve a horizontal construction integrated into the landscape of the stream and which can accommodate the lobby.
The design wants to recover the stream and the collective memory of a pool (popular place for summer recreation). For this reason, the main facade is oriented to the north, picking up the flow of neighbours coming from Ral path and reassessing this forgotten landscape, revitalising the ecosystem and promoting a new relationship with the users of the centre.
The building therefore aims to be a stream, a meander and a pool, flowing and reflecting the environment. The profile of organic geometry of the facade reflects the reverberation of the winding meander, generating a new access path and embracing the oak that names the Centre; its materiality is sometimes mirrored (to reflect and multiply the landscape in each piece of glass) and sometimes biospherical (to respect the naturalness of the environment).
Inside, each part of the programme finds its natural place, almost respecting the hydraulic logic by which erosion and sediment define the edge of the bank of the stream. Thus, the inside is organised in longitudinal layers tracing the line of the stream and resulting in more or less dilated spaces, which have a progressive materiality more dynamic, fluid, clear and watery near the facade of the stream and more solid, opaque, private or stony in front of the mountain. Mainly the library but also Espai Nou, Punt Jove and the bar are developed along this opening landscape facade which offers magnificent sightseeing options. The theatre, the rehearsal boxes and the various more closed type services are in the last layer or farthest place of the stream. All these spaces are articulated through an agora whose morphology, materiality and natural lighting procure a natural atmosphere which recalls the one enjoyed touring the stream.
Functional programme summary
Library: With an initial collection of 18,587 documents, the library has its own access and connection with the rest of the centre. It has a reception desk, a magazines area, a multipurpose room and a children's area on the ground floor, as well as a general area and an internal work area on the first floor. Above the stairs, a large mural made from handmade illustrations represents a collection of the flora and fauna of the surrounding environment.
Community Centre: "Punt Jove", the information desk, "Espai Nou" for seniors, the musical rehearsal boxes, the meeting rooms and the exhibition room are the main areas of this centre which gathers transversal services around a multipurpose hall.
Theatre: With a capacity for 336 people, it has retractable tiers of seats that allow versatility for use as a stage or a dance floor. It has a space for construction and assembly of scenographies.
External areas: The building, fully facing the stream, has catalysed the recovery of the landscape by two interventions. The walk of the stream and the path of the front bank. Walk of the stream: It runs adjacent to the stream and gives access to the facilities. When walking past the oak which names the centre, it is widen like a lookout terrace. Path and connection to the slaughterhouse: As part of the stream landscape recovery performance, a new way of connecting the slaughterhouse room is drawn located on the other side of the bank which goes across a "Japanese path".
Innovation in design/ regional priority
Even if the construction has finished on 2014, for economic reasons not technical; it has to be taken under consideration that the project is from 2009, and that at that time, wood façades and biomass boilers where a real innovation in Spain, still are somehow.
Economic and financial management criteria and results
This building is about economical sustainability. About the time the Global Financial Crisis hit Spain in 2007, the Town Hall of Begues started the preliminary studies for what it will happen to be the most important public facility in the village ever. And they did it in a very smart and efficient way by concentrating into a single building the new Library, the Theatre and a Community Centre as well as some other existing spaces spread outthought the town (elderly centre, youth information point, local choir and other associations’ spaces). This nucleus conception would allow the municipality to gather most of the public social workers into a single facility for a more efficient management.
This innovative approach based on synergy was also applied to the financial structure finally approved in 2009. The total cost of the construction was divided in three parts: the Town Hall itself, the Barcelona’s Local Governments Net (Diputació de Barcelona) and the Government of Catalonia. This complex arrangement would not only make the financing possible but it would also enrich the project extraordinarily as some of these administrations have a vast experience in this kind of facilities –for instance, the Diputació de Barcelona runs 216 libraries in a territory of 5.540.925 people!-.
The total cost of the building is 5.450.980,22 € (+ VAT) for a total surface of 3.893,15 m2 plus a total area of outdoor spaces of 1.563 m2. Roughly, the cost of the main building is 1.210 €/m2 (subtracting exterior areas, fixed furniture and technical building for biomass). This rather low budget for such a complex facility was achieved by using unexpansive but noble materials and standard construction systems. The character and singularity of the project is about the quality of the space and inspiring form and sensitive connexion with the environment rather than using luxurious materials.
Three aspects explain the mission and the social impact of the centre. Firstly, the participative aim of the facility. The centre is born and developed by the citizens and the administration involvement, from its functional programme definition to the choice of the centre's name according to a participative process which has strengthened the facility's ownership by the citizens of Begues.
Secondly, we are dealing with a triple facility that brings together different areas focused to social and cultural organisations activities development aimed at very different sectors and swaths of population, becoming a true meeting point.
Finally, the strong bond between the building and the natural environment -which goes from the landscape recovery of the stream to the stream morphology in the inner spatiality, the commitment to an air conditioning with the biomass obtained from the splinters from nearby forests clearing -, strengthens the identity of Begues as a municipality of Garraf Natural Park.
Sustainability. Passive and active systems employed.
Designed with sustainability criteria, the building has type “A” Energy Efficiency National Certification. Its main features and benefits are Passive design reducing energy consumption compared to baseline, a heating and DHW supplied by a Biomass Central, the use of renewable materials and a rainwater harvesting system.
SITE AND SUSTAINABILITY
Construction Activity Pollution Prevention: No excavation soil was thrown into the dumping but refilled on the site; outdoor solutions minimises natural landscape alteration –including water level and flood limit-.
Site development – Protect or Restore Habitat: Unlike the traditional perception as a residual space, the new building opens up its main façade to the stream. In addition, the site has been restored completely with native and adapted vegetation and landscape stands have been installed to inform visitors and users on local animals and plants.
Site development – maximize open space: Spaces along the stream (access, bar terrace, balcony, etc.) and roof Terrace.
Community impact: More than five local social associations and three different public administrations have participated in the project. Children, Teenagers, Elderly… everybody has a place and meets on the new cultural building.
Light Pollution Reduction: The building has interior lighting controls and night sky friendly exterior lighting.
Development Density and Community Connectivity: The building is placed close to the village centre and concentrates three different cultural services into one building (Theatre, Library and Civic Centre). Those services will take place on a site where the Municipality has already a small community centre and is planning an urban orchard for public use.
Alternative transportation: The building is close to the village centre and most of the users will get there by foot. Otherwise, bike parking is provided. In addition, there is a bus station a few meters from the building.
Water use reduction: The building reduces potable water consumption by implementing efficient systems and elements with low and controlable flow.
Storm water Design: The building reduces potable water demand by capturing storm water and using it for WC.
Water Efficient Landscaping: Landscape project is based on local and self-sufficient plants.
ENERGY AND ATMOSPHERE
Certification: A Classed on Energy Efficiency National Certification
On-Site Renewable Energy: The building is connected to a Biomass Central with two biomass boilers (300 kW each) supplied with the wood that municipality recollects from the maintenance of the surrounding woods. Those boilers supply the energy required for both DHW and heating.
Passive Design: Sun protection at the windows on East, West and South façades; % of openings and glass surface has been designed rationally; cross ventilation is possible on the main areas (library and foyer, for example) and allows a very useful way to cool passively the building during summer nights; wood ventilated façade and ventilated roof terrace reduce solar overheating; inertia on structure slabs improves thermal comfort; low U-values specially on the north façade (0,29 W/m2K) improves comfort and reduces energy consumption compared to baseline; glass skin converts partially this façade into a double façade, protecting indoor wood, offering reflective surfaces multiplying natural environment, and improving thermal performance.
Active Systems: In addition to Biomass boilers, mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery.
Lighting: Efficient lighting systems and control regulations reduces electricity consumption and internal heat gains.
MATERIALS AND RESOURCES
Reduce: The fact that the project proposes to fill the 3 services into 1 building, allows sharing the main hall, the bar, the reception, and several services meaning a significant reduction of redundant areas and constructed surface. Same concept was applied concerning materials; the project reduces the elements into essential ones to minimize materials use.
Recycle: Some materials used are recycled materials such as the OSB lams ceiling (panel composed by pressed small pieces of recycled wood); recycled concrete gravel on roof or under floor slab.
Rapidly Renewable Materials: Natural materials are used on the building, such as - Thermotreated Pinus Wood on the Theatre and south side ventilated façade; cork thermal insulation on the same façade, floor slab and roof; north façade composed by 120 mm wood structure and Insignis Pinus panel both sides filled with mineral insulation; 200x80 mm wood beams for north Glass façade structure; Wood windows on the main façade; Oak Wood industrial floor in the Theatre; interior glased and opaque wood divisions (wood structure and Insignis panel); EPDM waterproof membrane on the roof, among others.
Storage and Collection of Recyclables: There is a dedicated area for collection and storage of recyclables.
Certified Wood: All the wood used on the building is FSC compliant.
INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
Controllability of systems: Lighting and thermal comfort can be regulated by control systems. Fresh Air: The supply of fresh air can be provided both by mechanical and natural ventilation.
Day light: Most areas regularly occupied have optimal natural light. A very high comfort is reached as the goal was to have the sensation to be reading not in an indoor building classically thought. Northern light in the library to prevent users from glare.
Views: Main areas regularly occupied have direct views. Especially the Library and the Community Centre were thought as real viewpoints to the stream (when possible, Theatre excluded, etc.)