Aluminium Refinery Offices / Madland Estudio & Espacio Papel Arquitectos

© Elena Almagro

Architects: Madland Estudio & Espacio Papel Arquitectos
Location: León,
Project Area: 887.55 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Elena Almagro

Project Team: Madland Estudio / Cristina Navas Perona, Javier García-Rivera de la Plaza; / Elena Wilhelmi Casanova, Rafael Palomares Bralo, Juan Manuel Alcalde Castro
Collaborator: Myriam López Rodero
Structural Engineering: Tresca Ingeniería
Owner: COREAL, Compañía Refinera de Aluminio
Contractor: Cal y Canto S.L

The commission was to build the main offices of an aluminium refinery. The project responds to the building’s need to be an emblem of the company on one hand, and a functional building with a complex and diverse program on the other. The program can be defined in four different areas: administrative zone, education area, laboratories and dressing rooms.


© Elena Almagro

The building is attached to the refinery on two sides, and has a square floor plan with a surface of approximately 900 sqm. The concept of the project is to create a central patio to allow light in the different areas as well as to provide a protected outdoor space. The courtyard is 8 by 10 meters and located in the center of the building, following the modulation of the steel structure.

© Elena Almagro

The different programmatic zones are organized around the inner patio. Evolving around the inner patio, the circulation spaces enjoy the light, natural ventilation and the vegetation of the courtyard. As a concept for the design of the interior space a number of small volumes with “warm” materials contrast with the big spaces and “cold” materials typical of an industrial activity.


Six wooden boxes are designed for six strategic spaces in the building: one in the entrance, the second in the access to the patio, another one serves as an archive room for the administration, a forth one to host the servidor and a double one that contains the extractor and important work material. The last box is connected to the exterior on the southeast elevation; it is the office that buys and sells aluminium.

© Elena Almagro

For the outside enclosure a double layer has been designed, with the first being an inner brick wall and the second an exterior aluminium one. On the northeast elevation the two layers are two meters apart, generating a corridor connected to the main entrance. On the southeast elevation, the two skins are joined creating a ventilated facade.

The chosen material for the outside skin is aluminium, as it could not be any other way in the headquarters of an aluminium refinery. The visitor first sees a glare of color and then, in the entrance gallery, sees directly the colored aluminium. The lattice work allows the entry of light to the building, as well as it offers a good sun protection to the offices. On the southeast elevation, the windows will be protected with the aluminum frameworks while the brick parts of the façade will be cladded with aluminium plates.

© Elena Almagro

The patio facade will be done with big glass panes on the ground floor and with aluminium sandwich plates on the first floor. The client demanded a very short construction time, which explains why at the moment the enclosure has only one skin, while the design of the second layer is being developed. The images of the aluminium lattice framework correspond with a prototype that has been built to evaluate its resistance and good maintenance.

© Elena Almagro

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Aluminium Refinery Offices / Madland Estudio & Espacio Papel Arquitectos" 12 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • David

    Interesting… but seems to make no sense. Maybe that’s why it is interesting. ?