Multi-family dwellings


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27 Official Protection rental dwellings for young people

Emiliano López y Mónica Rivera, arquitectos

FAD Award 2008  Architecture
Description Technical file

This is a project devised to make the most of a surface measuring forty-five metres square, executed with durable though low-cost materials given the purpose of the volume being built: official protection rental dwellings. It represents an example of investigation and experimentation in this field that is moreover greatly in fashion in recent times. The new models of society, distanced in some cases from the traditional family, lead to devising solutions that were previously unthinkable. In addition, resorting to spaces of such reduced dimensions allows young people easy access to independence without having to spend the greater part of their income on rent or a mortgage. Lastly, this build typology helps to encourage a cheaper and more competitive rental market.

This is a project of twenty-seven dwellings for young people, the result of a competition organised by the Generalitat de Catalunya and the COAC and open to architects under forty years old. The forty-five-metre-square dwellings, devised for one or two people, are situated on a trapezoid-shaped plot in Barcelona’s Sant Andreu district.
The project is based on a concept that takes shape from the inside outwards, with special attention paid to the spatial qualities of the interior, an aspect that receives insufficient attention in social housing, in the view of the authors.
The transition spaces between interior and exterior are understood as thick limits composed of small-scale dampening interstices that give the dwelling a greater variety of spaces.
Both natural ventilation and abundant natural light in all the spaces are guaranteed by the interior layout and because all the units have two opposing open facades.
To take advantage of the Mediterranean climate, the entrance to the apartments takes place via an elevated street in the back part of the building that looks towards a typical Barcelona interior block courtyard.
The kitchen and bathroom are adjacent to this facade, while the main living area is in the opposite south-east facade in order to comply with the local eco-efficiency decree that requires that eighty percent of dwellings receive at least one hour of direct sunlight in the living room between 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon during the winter solstice.
Operating as a dampener between the street and the living area, and recovering a Barcelona tradition, there is a small gallery in the southern end of the living room, generated between two glazed surfaces and operating as a passive solar collector in winter. In summer, owing to the vertical rays of the sun, by opening the exterior glass slats and closing the interior folding doors the gallery is transformed into a balcony.
Adjacent to the living room and separated by two large sliding doors is the bedroom. Towards the street facade there is an alcove space generated by the depth of the gallery. In this space, a window of more reduced dimensions, with adjustable slats, filters the light according to the needs of the user. The window is in the centre of the space in order to liberate the two corners, where cupboards or desks can be fitted on both sides. This space can also be used as a sleeping corner, freeing up the rest of the room for other uses.
The room is connected with the bathroom, which is separated from the raised street by means of a dampening space for washing and drying linen. This space, closed off with galvanised steel slats and fibre cement panels, invades the width of the elevated street, compressing it at this point and separating the dwellings from the people who pass by. Access to the dwellings is in the landings of greater depth generated between the utility rooms. These landings or extension of the public street become small outdoor terraces. They are adjacent to the kitchen and can be appropriated by the tenants as an extension of the apartment, favouring social interaction and the idea of communal living.
The wall that separates the kitchen from the public street holds all the vertical conduits of the building, allowing them to be easily accessible for maintenance but also in order to give an exaggerated depth to the window that communicates the interior with the exterior. The sill of this guillotine window becomes a galvanised steel tray sixty centimetres wide that can be used to pass food or drinks directly from the kitchen to a table outside.
Owing to the low construction cost and to the dwellings being available on a rental basis, the materials chosen are as durable and economical as possible, worked so that they were simple and easy to execute. The floors are in polished terrazzo, the forgings made from painted concrete pre-slab and the structure in painted concrete, the partitions in plasterboard and the locks and frames in galvanised steel.

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Emplazamiento: Distrito de Sant Andreu, Barcelona. Autores: Emiliano López y Mónica Rivera, arquitectos. Colaboradores: Florencia Grieco, Sandra Hernández y Álvaro Solís. Cálculo de estructuras: BIS Arquitectes. Instalaciones: PGI Grup. Aparejador: Rafael Huertes. Constructora: Constructora d’Aro. Promotor: Institut Català del Sòl. Fotografía: José Hevia.
Mónica Rivera
Emiliano López