Social dimension. The social dimension of housing is a necessity in today’s Social Housing: as much the supply of spaces for meetings and relationships between neighbors, as the organization of an open interior for a house, not hierarchical. This also helps to erase the gender difference regarding daily household chores. The future of social housing must aspire not to isolate its inhabitants, but to encourage them in establishing relationships. This building of 111 units of Social Housing is placed in the eastern side of Terrassa, looking onto an open landscape that connects it from the nearby city centre. The proposal turns the inside space of the block into a semi-public square, essential for the life of the building: all the inhabitants enter from the street through this central square, a place of crossing paths, a meeting place. From here you enter into the staircase vestibule and then into the flats, through a progressive sequence of scales. This community square makes the whole block work as an intermediate element between city and landscape.
The transition from the city to the house, the linking of these two opposites, is carried out using a rich sequence that brings
the user from one situation to the other gradually.
The aim of this progressive passage is to dissolve the limits between public and private spaces.
Relationship with surrounding. The building rises out of a landscape consisting of pine trees and dried streams. The texture of this landscape suggests a facade formed by shadows and texture. The concrete façade attends to this character of the place, celebrating texture and an imperfection. Flowing over the cavities of this concrete surface, light creates continuity with the surrounding landscape. Also, the facade prepares to be seen from different distance approaches. From afar the building could be read as one unit, not showing clearly its size and scale… preventing the ability to understand its real dimensions. From close up the facade creates complicity, a connection with the passer-by who touches, leans on it.
The houses. As the houses are of reduced dimensions, the project focuses in providing extensions of them into terraces, balconies, and halls at the ground floor, an entrance square, and a series of intermediate spaces that
allow the flat not to be restricted by its floor plan but to extend out beyond it.
The distribution of the houses closes just two rooms: one bedroom and the bathroom.
The rest of the spaces are in a continuous flow, passing from one to another, establishing a series of situations that connect back to a view of the entrance courtyard and to the nearby pines forest.
The daily domestic activities -cooking, laundering, ironing etc-, are left in view to the occupants, encouraging them to participate. This is an attempt to avoid these activities taking place within a closed room, without anyone taking note of their periodicity. These same working areas turn into social areas when receiving guests.
Even though the apartments are small -around 60/70 square meters of floor area-, you own a house where it is possible to invite friends, relatives...
The concrete façade. These load-bearing facades also provide the building with a good thermal mass. These were cast on site with polystyrene formworks, used here for the first time. These formworks were fabricated in a factory, industrialized to reduce the construction time on site, equilibrating the more careful and slow timing of the in situ concrete construction.
Sustainability. All the dwellings have crossed ventilation, good natural light and shutters that can be folded and project like a tent to make a good control of the changes of temperature, using systems of passive energy. In this way, it is not necessary to use air conditioned inside these houses.
All the building is provided with garden roofs, with the same kinds of plants that grow naturally in the surrounding landscape.
Above these roofs were installed solar panels, to heat water for the houses.
Another important ecological decision was to install a pneumatic system of selective recollection of garbage, at the ground floor of the same bloc.
Garage. Special attention was paid to the natural lighting of the underground garage. This aim was realized by adding holes in the central square, which allows views down to the parking ramp and to a large pot with three trees. These three Acacias are planted in the lowest level of the building, and from there they reach the level of the square, connecting the whole section.
|Programme:||111 Social Houses of about 70sqm each, 4 commercial locals and 111 parking spaces.|
|Promoter:||Societat Municipal d’Habitatge de Terrassa (Public Administration).|
|Architects:||Flores & Prats Archs, Ricardo Flores and Eva Prats.|
|Quantity Surveyor:||Xavier Badia.|
|Structural Adviser:||Manuel Arguijo.|
|Collaborators:||Jorge Casajús, Natalia Uribe, Fotini Trigonaki, Constanza Chara, Andrea Shneider, Jorge Lopez Conde, Nadia Mustopo, Horacio Arias, Arabella Masson, Michelle Lopez, Abdulla Al-Shamsi, Robyn Creagh, Celia Carroll, Javier Lecumberri, Ellen Barten, Jonny Pugh, Eirene Presmanes, Christine van Sluys, Cristina Garriga, Anna Reidy.|
|Photography:||Adrià Goula, Àlex Garcia, Filippo Abrami, Duccio Malagamba.|
|Situation:||City block at a peripherical neighbourhood in Terrassa, Barcelona|
|Budget:||9,008,560.48 € (approx. 716.33 €/sqm)|
|Date of the Project:||2004-2006|
|Date of Construction:||April 2007- February 2010|