Etxezabala Office Building / AH Asociados

© José Manuel Cutillas

Architects: AH Asociados
Location: ,
Design Team: Miguel A. Alonso del Val, Rufino J. Hernández Minguillón, Álvaro Cerezo Ibarrondo
Proyect Year: 2009
Photographs: José Manuel Cutillas

Project Area: 1,615.25 m2
Collaborators: Víctor Ugarte, Maite Lorenzo, Iñaki Llanes, Miguel A. Maestre. David T. Goss, Adelaida Barreiro

The project comes up from the need of the Town Hall to concentrate the different administrative areas to facilitate working and municipal management. As a consequence, it has been decided to rehabilitate three annexed buildings in the old quarter of the city and transform them into an administrative whole.

© José Manuel Cutillas

Thus, the current Town Hall (the Portu House) conserves its institutional character; the Municipal Market maintains its current use in the ground floor, while the first floor could be used for cultural or institutional purposes and, in the end, there is the Etxezabala building, the one that will accommodate the different administrative areas required.

© José Manuel Cutillas

This building is covered by a basic grade of protection as a cultural heritage. When it set on fire, it was necessary to change completely the project, but not the main intentions and strategies. These were flexibility and respect for the previous image of the building.

© José Manuel Cutillas

The new building has the main staircase in the same place as the well was situated before. This staircase has been conceived as a light object unfolded across the space. Therefore, the pre-existing space is reproduced in a conceptual way and is showered by the light of the south, which is spread to the neighbouring areas where the lift has been located.

© José Manuel Cutillas

From a functional point of view, the idea is to dispose all the elements of vertical communication, installations and access to the different floors next to the market. Thus, it is possible to simplify the access from the first floor of the market to the different areas of Etxezabala building and the distribution of the required installation piping.

© José Manuel Cutillas

Another important feature that helps to understand the proposal is the search of best flexibility. Once communications and common utility ducts have been disposed at the south extreme limiting with the market, a series of fixed areas for services are disposed repeatedly in each floor of the east extreme. These areas are the archives, toilets and a room that accommodates different auxiliary uses in relation to floors. The plumbing installation piping passes as well by the east extreme through an air space of adequate dimensions.

© José Manuel Cutillas

The rest of the floor is used for disposing the different working areas. The main offices and meeting rooms are place in the north extreme of the floor in such a way that all of them are receiving natural lightning. These offices are separated by mobile partitions so that future changes may be arranged. The rest of the surface is available for posts that do not require offices, as well as the posts for customer support. All of them receive natural lightning through the gaps disposed at the west façade in the first, second and third floor.

© José Manuel Cutillas

As an exception to this scheme, the ground floor presents in its north extreme (facing to the Calle Mayor) a double glass as a double skin that unfolds to give place to the access gate of the building from the Calle Mayor. In addition, a double desk to attend customers is placed in this level. In the central area of these desks there is an empty area reserved for waiting rooms. At last, the basement is designed as a polyvalent area where there are multi-purposed rooms, storage dependencies and an office area. The program required for this new building includes three administrative departments: Secretary, Economic Services and Social Affairs.

© José Manuel Cutillas

In the ground floor there are several departments, such as Customer Service, Economic Services and Secretary. Each of them has a desk and prepared areas for personalized attention. The Customer Service area can be separated of the communications group by a door out of the opening hours of the service. In the end, in this floor there are two archives, one for each department (Secretary and Economic Services). In the first floor there are the Secretary services. The offices area has been completed with a meeting room and an additional room for IT Managers next to the server room.

This floor is very important because at this height there is the access to the first floor of the municipal market and, therefore, the connexion with Portu House. So, both first floors (Etxezabala building and municipal market) share the same height. In addition, with this operation not only the pass through these two buildings is facilitated, but also the pass of the installation group piping.

In the second floor there are the Economic Services. In addition, in case any enlargement of the Social Affairs Department took place, there is also a meeting room that has been prepared for this and for the use of the personal of this department.

Ground floor

In the third floor the location of Social Affairs has been planned according to the number of offices required for this service. Therefore, in this floor the offices are arranged in an ‘L’ occupying the north and east sides. The waiting areas planned previously in each floor are defined here due to the privacy requirements defined by the department. This floor adds a customer service desk in front of the opened work area. Some fixed services pieces are proposed and repeated in every floor, as explained before. In this way, each administrative area includes toilettes, archives, an installation room and reprography. In the attic there is an additional space for installations and maintenance.

In relation to the image of the building, it is very significant the fact that the materials and gap layout of the previous building has been reproduced. At the same time, the volumetric and alienation to the Calle Mayor has also been maintained.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Etxezabala Office Building / AH Asociados" 25 Jun 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=246754>