Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Residential Center Cugat Natura in Barcelona, Spain by JF Arquitectes
July 17th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: JF Arquitectes
The Residential Cugat Natura Center is located in one of the most peaceful and exclusive zones of the city of Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona), enjoying one of the most privileged views of the Golf Club of the locality and a directly access to the city center.
One important aspect of this kind of project is trying to understand which kind of users will use this center, and the needs that they have. In this residential center we can clearly differentiate between two different users; on one hand, those who haven’t got any degree of dependence, and that would like to have in their common lives the facilities that a residential center offers them, and on the other hand, people with a low-medium-high degree of dependence who need to be looked after and handled by professionals.
Under those premises as a crux of the project, a residential center made up of two building has been designed. Both buildings have a ground floor plus three floors more, linked between them by the two basements. The first volume is earmarked as a geriatric residential, for users with some degree of dependence, and the other volume, further away, are assisted apartments with access to all the services of the center.
A residential center is required to provide a quality of life equal to or better than what their users used to have before entering. It has to be a pleasant place to live, coexist and also to visit, and create encouraging sensations to the people that are probably going to spend the last days of their lives there.
To make this possible, the residential center not only has a build surface around 17.000 m2 for rooms, services and polyvalent rooms, it is also surrounded by about almost 4.000 m2 of green exterior zones for taking a walk and do activities with the staff from the center.
The performance of the buildings has been studied to achieve the maximum benefits, either in terms of occupation or user services.
The building is understood as two big volumes, constructer from ceramic brick, and a central core, built with reinforced concrete and curtain wall, which contains the main vertical movements of the building. It has 86 double rooms, placed on the three-storey and releasing space in some zones of the floors for achieve the answer to the need of create diverse rest points or polyvalent rooms. The ground floor of the building contains the public program, reception, administration, polyvalent room, cafe, dining hall, physiotherapy room, and zones for resting.
To avoid giving the impression of a hospital, with endless long corridors and doors into both sides, two big atriums in the rooms zone and another smaller on the hall were projected, allowing and providing the entry of natural light to all room floors and lower floors, even to the basement -1 with a large interior garden.
Those central atriums reference, both in its type like in its function, the magnificent Romanesque cloister of the Sant Cugat d’Octavià monastery, in the same locality. In the same way that the architecture used to be organized around a central court which constituted the interior center of the monastery or cloister, the projected building turn around those arcaded galleries which work like a cloister and, as in the monastery, organize all the program around itself attending to the needs and providing the complex a huge gust of life in form of light. Organized by a grill of 1,20 meters the transparent and translucent vains are distributed around all the perimeter being associated and separated depending on the solar incidence of each of its faces, capturing or bouncing the light and reflecting the sky as a visual reference from anywhere.
Trying to bring out the interior luminosity even more, with which the sky of Sant Cugat delights us, some finishings to make it possible were found, using plastic paints for the rooms and vinyl coating for the common zones (corridor, hall, rooms…) in a white neutral shade. The pavements maintain the same line of color used, and also we can recognize three different greys. Just a touch of green appears, following the corporative colors to frame the clefts of access to the rooms.
The apartment building, materialized too, respecting the buildings around it, made with ceramic brick, and concrete walls on the extremes, was designed following a staircase-shaped system for the floors. With this measure we can achieve that all the 32 apartments can enjoy of one open and private terrace with views to the Golf club. Only the vertical communication core, stair and lifts, maintain the same position, and the floors have a difference of 2 meters, which respond to the width of the terraces and the corridor between them. The principal facades of the building, both terraces and corridors, give some visual movement to the complex, between the different floors; this happens because of the projecting elements (jardinière) and the opaque paraments in the corridor zone, following the idea of the general staircase-shape. The apartments have all the equipment necessary to move in and there are two typologies, with 55 m2 and 46 m2 net. In these, the interior designers, have enhanced the width sensation through the distribution, the use of natural light, the lighting, and the use of the materials in coatings. The lobbies and corridors work as a common nexus between the apartments and the polyvalent room through the language and constructive solutions used in both areas.
Underground floor – linkage
On the basement -1, were both buildings merge, there are three different program areas. The first area, with road access from the outside, is the car park of the geriatric, and the ramp for vehicles which unify those with the basement -2 dedicated to the users of the apartment (junk room and rooms destined for installations). The parking structure that supports the loads of the first wing of the geriatric building is a grid of post-tensioned beams. This beams, the pillars and slab are formed with concrete. The second area contains the most private program (kitchen, dressing rooms, storage, laundry, staff area …), and a large room that generates a space–circulation where are all the program services offered by the geriatric center (hairdresser, chiropodist, doctor, chemist, psychologist, petanque, reading rooms, etc).
On the second area, we find the interior garden (with vegetal plantation), which moves away from both programs mentioned and it is visible from almost every corner of the big room, improving the environment of the users through an appropriate level of brightness and optimal comfort.
On the areas two and three of the basement -1 are placed two big courtyards, open to the outside, which not only is useful for the entry of natural light but serves as spacer elements between both areas. The area three includes all the program for the users of the apartments (cinema room, living rooms- reading, bar-restaurant, private dining, fitness, offices, hairdresser…), the intervention in this area by the interior designers is notable for the distribution of the different parts of the program through minimal use of vertical paraments and ceiling. It has projected a open space, both vertically and horizontally, with the aim of enhance the entry of light on this basement. The coatings and textures, sound absorbing elements, lighting, and the fixed and mobile furniture, were worked with the aim that themselves delimit the different programs of the polyvalent room. The effort shown in the whole complex referring to the obtention of natural light also is applied in this last area through large skylight that allows a blurring of the space of a conventional basement.
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