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.
Europan 13 Community, a sustainable building in Barcelona, Spain by Archilea architecture
March 20th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Archilea architecture
The strategy: The project stems from the desire to decline the concept of sustainability, specific in this competition, in three distinct areas: environmental sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. The stated goal is to create a system in which the three fields can interact and integrate in order to reach equilibrium without one of the three areas of the system, which normally happens, can take precedence over others. To create this system, one of the aspects taken into consideration was the ability to move away from the traditional housing system in which the threshold of building represents a limit insideoutside trying to include in the own building a whole series of activities that can aggregate functions and increase the opportunities to meet and socialize the inhabitants. The basic idea is that the internal layout of the building is transformed into a “public square” open to the outside integrating, as mentioned, functions traditionally handled from outside and defining the building, in fact, as an hybrid: this combination of features provides the possibility to the residents of the building to meet, socialize and discuss transforming the whole neighborhood in a community, overcoming the possible socio-economic and cultural-linguistic differences.
Project area: The analysis of the area intervention shows that the site is located in an urban particular place: “Marina del prat vermell” presents a mix of morphological features; it is a suburb adjacent to the commercial port area and has a strong historic characteristics of industrial area, that the City Hall of Barcelona aims to maintain. The infrastructures that skim the limits serve to support economic activities, and, in terms of urban transport, this area is, nowadays, little connected with the places where social activities take place in the city. Currently it is under construction a new branch of Metro which should, at least in part, solve this connection problem. From the point of view of the quality of the architectural space, the problems within the site are so obvious that the City Hall of Barcelona has decided a massive intervention of the revitalization of the area in which the project site is the subject of this edition of the Europan competition. From a social point of view, the area shows some problems related to a suburb not yet fully equipped with the necessary facilities and service of the district from being near the commercial port. The potential of the area, anyway, is evident to a careful analysis; the proximity of the areas with a strong strategic interest as Europa Fira or cultural, as Montjuïc, combined with the ease of access current (ronda litoral) or future (metro L9) can definitely be a stimulus to the project of revitalization of the area.
The project Community: The analysis of the area and the study of the solutions proposed in similar contexts have generated the idea of the project which, as said, has developed in the direction of create a sustainable system to all effects. The basic idea is that, through the development of social strategies you can simultaneously develop strategies that will lead to economic and environmental sustainability. The complex of Social Housing, in fact, is not structured like a building complex closed to the inside, but as an open system, integrated into the district, a kind of socio-cultural reference center for the whole area. The traditional building system, in fact, most of the time acts as an aggregate of different dwellings with absent common areas and very few points of collective aggregation, in this project is presented the opposite: it is tried to constitute a different model of housing in which the common areas and aggregation spaces can act as an economic engine of the entire building. The building is built around a walkway ramp on which are distributed both houses that the different common areas both closed and open. The walkway is an historical trail of the old Barcelona’s houses balconies, in particular those of the Eixample district, which is a declared quote. The dwellings are 90 from 4 different types and sizes, to guarantee the living comfort to the different types of possible tenants. The different types include apartments of one, two or three rooms, and size of 40,54 and 73 square meters. The smaller houses are almost all equipped with terrace. The open spaces are arranged like equipped squares and spaces of collective socialization; the various functions of these squares are:
• Children’s games
In addition to these small squares (relatively small) there are other, much larger to use them as urban gardens. This is one of the most significant aspects of the project. The will, also in this case, to combine the aspects of environmental sustainability and of social aggregations purposes that can help the knowledge and socialization, favored by a common objective, in this case the urban garden. Several investigations have demonstrated the desirability of the urban garden, especially in compact urban contexts. The urban garden in this case, uses a hydroponic system, whose water comes directly from the internal system of the building of water management. Ventilation and the necessary combination of light-heat are guaranteed by the shape of the building. More common areas inside the building are closed common areas. These rooms are located between several houses and are destined to all those functions that can guarantee the economic sustainability of the system. All ‘inside of these places, in fact, those functions are economically organized with a more profitable vision:
These environments can generate, through usage concessions, the income necessary to ensure the maintenance of the building and its economic management, thus relieving residents. All common areas have access through two panoramic lifts located in the central patio and by vertical connections, both accessible to all the tenants. On the ground floor, connected from outside the building, is located a “Centre Civic” in order to keep the idea of the Community expressed in all the project.
Water system: The water system of the new building provides a scheme of water recycling almost complete: a large tank for collecting rainwater is on the ground floor of the building. This water collects rainwater and soapy waters of the building’s use, which are purified through the phytoremediation through phytoremediation plants. A proposal that is submitted to the reuse of all rainwater and greywater ‘s intervention area. In the plan, in fact, are visible the tanks of water purification. These waters are primarily used for the technique of hydroponic cultivation of urban gardens, then stored in purification plants, sent to the nearby central interchange cold and heat of the “Parc Logístic de la Zona Franca” to be heated and return to the building and the entire district as heating. The final phase of the system provides for the return in settling tanks in which restart the ‘whole process.
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