Architects: Estudio UNTERCIO
Location: Ensanche de Vallecas, Madrid, Spain
Design Team: Miguel Herráiz Gómez, Mauro Iván Bravo Hernández, Marina del Mármol Peces, Daniel Bergman Vázquez, Michael Becker
Technical Architect: Alfonso Sáenz García
Photographs: Pedro Pegenaute
We tried to imagine, all of us together, a dwelling in which we would like to live. Bright and open to meet with friends some of us said, intimate and in semidarkness, the laziest ones replied. A dwelling with a multiple personality. One that would be able to react to the changing seasons. One that would open itself to two different environments; on one side, a street belonging to a new urban development, but close to the urban life of Vallecas Village, and on the other side, a bounded and safe courtyard.
As a result, we designed a cross-ventilated dwelling divided in two very different areas; one a static collection of spaces, devoted to private and intimate functions, and another dynamic one, devoted to social life. This last space, where family and close social life takes place, is able to transform itself into an open terrace by opening two big sliding windows that leave no mullion in the corner. This architectural solution allows the inhabitants of the always too small social dwellings, to enjoy at the same time a large terrace in summer and a spacious living-room in winter.
Another big bet of the project was to enhance communal life taking great care of the common spaces and interconnecting them visually in order to multiply encounters between dwellers. The usually closed-in stairs and dark entries from the elevators to the dwellings, have been opened and are day-lit. The stairs cantilever into the courtyard facing South and provide a nice spot to chat with a neighbour or to wave hello as they walk into their own private area. The courtyard is the center of communal life of the building. It offers a safe playground for children and a long bending bench strategically placed facing the busiest area on the ground floor. We want people to meet and develop informal social relations which are not taking place so easily in car friendly buildings and neighbourhoods.
From the urban point of view, the block is broken into several slices which have been split in order to multiply the free corners. This strategy multiplies the facades and blurs the massive image which the urban plan had envisioned for this plot. In this way, the volumetric composition of the building is adapted to the small and broken image of the old “Villa de Vallecas” located on the opposite side of the street, while its height and width match the neighboring constructions in the new urban development.