Location: Vallfogona de Balaguer, Lleida, Spain
Architect In Charge: CODIstudio
Leading Architect: Oscar FRAGO
Design Team: Cristina ALCALDE, Kenneth McGUIRE
Design & Calculus Of Building Structures: Oscar FRAGO
Area: 425 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of CODIstudio
CUNIPIC is a company devoted to the breed and commercialisation of pets as well as the production and distribution of their food. Its philosophy is based on respect for animals and nature. The proposed building internalizes this philosophy and tries to materialize a working environment in agreement with it.
It is built as a ‘container’ of uses and materials located in a rural setting next to the exploitation that CUNIPIC owns in Vallfogona de Balaguer. During the day it represents an open and dynamic space while at night it becomes a hermetic and protective box located on a site far away from the city center and surrounded by a completely flat farming land.
Working stations merge with circulation spaces in order to generate a greater link among building users. All working stations have a window to the exterior from which to enjoy the views from the surroundings. These windows were designed as viewpoints while working, this is why they are located at eye level while seated on a chair, their sills also becoming part of the working space. Natural daylight plays a leading role and the white interiors help to strengthen this concept. The central patio maximizes the entrance of daylight to all rooms and generates a transparent partition among uses within the building.
In such extreme weather conditions as the ones in Lleida a building is constructed using solutions that stress isolation and protection against very different and extreme weather conditions. The envelope of the building is a ventilated facade with wood finishes. It is topped with an extensive green roof. These solutions are ecofriendly, integrative and energy efficient. Closures have been design to protect the interior from the sun during the summer time and to sunbath the rooms during the winter. Moreover, all closures are automated and fulfill a second task: to protect the building from intruders while it is not being used, like a ‘container’ open to the exterior while in use and hermetic while out of use.
Even though the dimensions of the building made the use of some building solutions budgetwise impossible, special emphasis was placed on the efficiency and exploitation of resources at hand.
The building is constructed with the minimal intervention of concrete. The construction consists of a lightweight structure which minimizes the dimensions of the concrete foundations. On the floor slabs, mixed solutions also helped minimize the use of concrete.
The whole supporting structure was designed taking into account the material available from a road accident involving a truck that transported steel. The structure was conceived keeping in mind the ‘reuse’ of all that available material.
The façade was made of larch wood (Larix decidua). This wood from conifers is very strong and resin impregnated, what confers it a high resistance to weathering, incorruptibility and immunity to insects. The use of this kind of wood allowed us to spare it from an additional protection cover, minimizing its maintenance and allowing the natural aging process of the material.
The roof solution allows water savings thanks to the indigenous plants which are highly resistant. As the building is located in a rural setting, the watering of all the gardening features is performed using water from the irrigation of the adjacent farming land, sparing consumption of drinkable water.
The concept behind the design of the building confers it some passive features that allow a minimal use of the air conditioning system.