Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Plaza Ecópolis in Madrid, Spain by ecosistema urbano
February 8th, 2011 by Susan Smith
The goal of the project “Plaza Ecopolis” by architectural firm ecosistema urbano was to transform a faceless site in Madrid’s urban sprawl, surrounded by industry and heavy traffic transportation infrastructures, into a public space for social interaction plus provide a building for childcare and a children’s play center.
Architect: ecosistema urbano
Project: Plaza Ecópolis
Location: Plaza Ecópolis, 1 – Rivas Vaciamadrid – 28529 Madrid – Spain
Client: City Council of Rivas-Vaciamadrid
Building floor Area: 3.000 sqm
Public space: 7.500 sqm
Construction cost: 2.700.000€
Building cost per sqm: 700 €/sqm
Project Completion: 2009/2010
“Plaza Ecopolis” aims to incorporate the idea of sustainability into daily life. The main focus is therefore to create a vision of urban sustainability that facilitates the reduction of energy consumption using design alternatives, but that also raises public awareness of their own consumption behavior. The layout of the building creates a public space that can be used by the area’s residents. The project considers the public space an “open environmental classroom”, an integrated educational program for children with the goal of improving the urban environment, including a water purification system based on natural processes. It is ecosistema urbano’s belief that projects such as “Plaza Ecopolis” offer ways to increase awareness for sustainability to children who will someday become responsible adults.
Technologies implemented at Ecopolis project facilitate the initial bioclimatic design approach by minimizing the consumption of both energy and natural resources. Once consumption has been dramatically reduced, ecosistema urbano analyzes the use of active systems based on alternative energies.
A complete energy simulation study was developed by the Thermodynamics Research Group at the Industrial Engineering School of Seville. This simulation study is the key to understanding the behaviour of the building and it helped to select the best location for every single constructive element, adjusting the available construction budget.
An important area of the building is underground (50% of the building takes advantage of the land’s thermal inertia) and a large glass facade facing south (700 sqm). These features shape the physical relationship between the building and its environment. A bioclimatic textile layer superimposed over a light steel structure is wrapping the rational concrete core of the building. This textile (partially movable, connected with sensors to sun position) is the interface between interior and exterior spaces, blurring the boundaries between private and public and extending the inner comfort to the public space.
The building extends its limits into the plaza and part of its functional processes are placed outside to make them more transparent to the public, creating a more conscious way of managing natural resources. The sewage system ends in a lagoon in front of the building where all the waste water from the building is naturally purified by macrophyte plants. All the purified water is stored underground in a gravel tank which is used for all the irrigation needs of the plaza. This artificial landscape looks and feels a natural riverbank.
An artificial topography has been created as an enclosure and protection filter from the aggressive industrial environment, but within the plaza it is easy to imagine you are somewhere closer to nature.
Ecopolis Plaza also demonstrates economy in the field of sustainable construction, where efficiency usually means higher construction cost. In this case, the Ecopolis project cost per square meter is more than 35% less than a conventional building.
Spanish law has awarded the highest eco-lable (A grade) to the Ecopolis Plaza Project.