Architects: Ecoproyecta + Ad-hoc msl
Location: Murcia, Spain
Project Architects: Pablo Carbonell Alonso, J.A. Sánchez Morales, M. Mesa del Castillo Clavel, Ricardo Crespi, Juli Novau Mañogil, Luis Miguel Guzmán Sánchez, Laura Ortín, Jiménez, Blanca de Juan Bayan
Area: 472 sqm
Photographs: Gabriel López
Acoustic Engineering: Bioingeniería
Structural Engineering: David Boixader
Client: Universidad de Murcia
The design project for eight new classrooms for the School of Economics and Business at Murcia University, the result of a collaboration between Ecoproyecta and Adhoc msl, has been defined from the beginning by sustainability criteria with respect to energy efficiency and material selection.
The original building was designed and executed by the studio Adhoc msl and the architect Enrique Carbonell at the end of the 1990s. The general scheme of the building was determined by four classroom and office blocks, with east-west orientation, that cross with two perpendicular communication rooms, with north-south orientation.
Years later, Murcia University proposes the extension of new classrooms that would follow the criteria of educational spaces defined in the Declaration of Bolonia (organizational flexibility, smaller spaces, less students per teacher, the integration of new technologies, etc). To these criteria, Ecoproyecta added standards of sustainable construction, to accomplish a healthy, comfortable space, with a lower energy requirement. The new classrooms are located in the porches originally left open as part of the interior plaza. The classrooms occupy the porches partially, and maintain the possibility of circulating through the plaza. The access to the classrooms from the exterior plaza revitalizes its use, and takes advantage of the benign weather in Murcia.
The intention was to understand this extension as a new element added to an existing building. Therefore, instead of mimicking the construction in steel and concrete of the original building, the design of the extension, both formally and constructively, was realized independently.
The new classrooms follow the concept of dry and lightweight assemblage, with a structure comprised of laminated wood and prefabricated wood-cement panels in the exterior, and chipboard panels in the interior. Thermal insulation is achieved using natural cork and hemp fiber. Natural cork panels also contribute to acoustic conditions, in terms of insulation and reverberation, necessary for the comfort needed in the classrooms.
The lack of thermal inertia resulting of a lightweight construction system is compensated with thicker insulation. Each façade contains a layer of hemp fiber 8cm thick and a layer of natural cork 4cm thick. Added to the insulation capacity of the wood panels, a very low thermal conductivity is achieved. Thus, thanks to the low thermal conductivity inertia, the classrooms reach their comfort temperature quickly.
The ventilation and lighting systems are simple, taking advantage of the free perimeter classrooms. Openings on the north and south facades facilitate cross ventilation and natural lighting perpendicular to the orientation of the working plane. These openings are materialized with skylights that give the project its emblematic image.