Celosia Building / MVRDV with Blanca Lleó


Architect: MVRDV & Blanca Lleó
Location: Madrid,
Client: EMVS
Year: 2009
Budget: 12.6M Euro
Constructed Area: 21,550 sqm
Photographs: Ricardo Espinosa

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In Madrid-Sanchinarro the first residents received the keys to their apartments in the just completed Celosia building. Jacob van Rijs of MVRDV and Blanca Lleó have completed the social housing block near the Mirador Building, which is an earlier collaboration. The perforated block of Celosia assembles 146 apartments, communal outside areas throughout the building, and parking and commercial program in the plinth. The total floor area is 21,550 sqm. With a construction cost of 12,6 million Euro the apartments can be sold for affordable prizes. The city block is opened and allows wind and light to enter the building, offering vistas and outside spaces contrasting the surrounding area. The client is EMVS, the public housing corporation of the city of Madrid.


The given volume of the city block was divided into 30 small blocks of apartments. These blocks are positioned in a checkerboard pattern next to and on top of each other, leaving wide openings for communal patios throughout the building. 146 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are all accessed via these communal spaces. Most apartments offer additional private outdoor space in the shape of a loggia right behind the front door. Inhabitants have the possibility to gather in the communal high-rise patios which offer views towards the city and the mountains and provide natural ventilation in summer. Opening the front doors connects the private outdoor areas to the communal area.


The façade is made of coated which was from the ground floor up constructed in complete mould system, an efficient and clean way to cast , keeping the construction cost to a minimum; an important asset for this social housing project. The polyurethane coating allows the façade to shimmer and reflect depending on the light condition.

All windows are floor to ceiling height and can be shielded from the sun. Each apartment has the possibility of cross ventilation through two or three facades and enjoys views through the building and to the surrounding. A system of power efficient boilers is used in the building; solar panels on the roof heat water reducing energy consumption further.


Underneath the building a parking garage on two levels provides 165 parking spaces. The ground floor offers room for 6 individual retail units.

The nearby Mirador building which was completed by MVRDV and Blanca Lleó in 2005 also discusses the traditional building block by putting it vertical. The Celosia building is horizontally arranged around the interior court but opposes the generic introverted architecture in the area by bringing light and communal space into the building allowing a perhaps more extraverted Spanish lifestyle as every apartment opens up to a small plaza.

Cite: "Celosia Building / MVRDV with Blanca Lleó" 02 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 15 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=29637>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Looks a bit sterile for living purpose but I like it. Would like to see inside the apartments.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +2

      I had the opportunity to visit the interior and are very bad, spatial organization and finishes

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    very cool.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think this building has potential to be great! if you think about it, once inhabited all those voids will be fill with colors, clothes hanging [like those in diller scofidio japan housing project but that was a middle class project] colorful curtains and different shades of light…..I’m excited to see this!

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    How are those voids profitable? how they manage to suppress that cost from getting to the dep´s owners?

    As an architect, I understand such a design desicion, but will regular people pay for empty spaces…?

    …personally I like the building.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I find it quite cool – there is really no façade game, just pure tectonics. But I would like to see some pictures while inhabited as well. I hope the void spaces work.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like the simple design. Grey (concrete) + White –> nice
    I wish I can live in there.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    It defeats its purpose, I would live there if I had to, I wouldn’t want to. Ideas are good if they are shared by those who use the spaces seemingly smart designers construe, if not, no matter how appealing to others, it simply is not successful. We all have to be communicators, original, passionate and ……effective, to allow for meaningful and enduring architecture to come to life.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Jesus… that’s ugly!
    I guess in the scale model probably it looks cool, but in real life, with that material and color selection…

    Like it was said already: it looks like a prison, and I don’t want to live there (definitely). I also would like to know how they convinced the client to create all those holes in the facade. Furthermore, I would like to see a picture in the future with people using it… for a party? conversation place? smoking place? will neighbors complain?

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Perhaps the voids aren’t “profitable”, but there is something humanizing about having public housing that isn’t a typical floor plan extruded 20 stories.

    That being said, I feel like the voids could have been used more effectively. Maybe it is the lack of furniture / people in the photos, but I feel like the spaces won’t be used – they are neither private nor public. I feel like the voids would not be a cool place to hang out because they are basically glorified hallways.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    De un tiempo a esta parte, no se en que se está convirtiendo la arquitectura, ya que aparecen obras como esta, tan deficientes en composición.


  11. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    There is nothing new here. In 1925, Le Corbusier has drawn this same building on his project called ‘Immuebles-Villas’. If anyone go to the page 76 of the volume ‘Oeuvre Complete 1910-1929′, you’re going to find the same building (you can also go to the last pages of ‘Towards a New Architecture’). Maybe we just have here just a vulgar copy and anything new about facing housing problems. Are we facing the same problems on this beginning of the XXI century? In some ways, yes… but…

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Ci dovrebbero essere dei negozi e attività commerciali alla base invece che della terra, se no si crea un quartiere dormitorio.
    There should be some shops and businesses at the base instead of the land, otherwise you create a neighborhood dormitory.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like it. Large communal spaces, the relationship between these spaces and the outside and the plaza. But it looks too “cold”

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i think this is a really cool building, but out of curiousity i did the math.
    21,500sqm = 231,400sqf
    12.6M euro = 17.9M $

    FOR REAL??? It is a little misleading to believe this to be accurate or true, unless I fudged my math somewhere. I see the interiors are rather sparse, but please fact check this one.

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