Text description provided by the architects. Beyond an impeccable functional and spatial interior layout, explained below, the key to this project lies in an appropriate answer to the unusual and difficult urban and volumetric situation into which it is inserted.
On both sides of the building site rise two “twin towers” that are 9/10 stories high, whereas our site can only house a building 3 stories high. The block will therefore keep the vertical indent, and the new built volume will have a difficult height correlation, always remaining in an inferior condition with respect to the neighbor buildings, in spite of its condition as a public facility.
As shown on the sketches, we could think of a villa surrounded by gardens as the ideal site for a facility of this kind, as in some cases in the ensanche and other neighborhoods of Barcelona (fig.2). In our site, urban conditions permitting, we could consider giving continuity to the height of the block with vertical villas, “immeubles villas”, or at least a “Cambó” completed with a lush garden. The urban policy parameters are, in any case, determining. The openings of the lateral facades towards our site force us into a condition of involuntary “androna” below 5/6 housing floors that look toward our building. Without being able to compete or give continuity to the lateral masses, or even withdraw and manifest ourselves through our absence, a crack on the façade, due to the tight area of the site with respect to the program, we decided on a building around a garden courtyard on different levels. It is manifested on the street as an enigmatic wall, a canvas of lattices crowned by a garden which becomes the protagonist of the exterior image, in a manner recognized at many sites in Barcelona, where trees lean out over a wall and vines hang from an interior garden, sometimes at a higher level. These roof gardens mimic the ideal condition of the “villa”, offering spaces for walking and resting that the program of the building demands.
Volumetric and programmatic layout
Given that the rear facade overlooks an alleyway only 1.5 meters wide, which opens up at higher levels but always faces the rear façades of an educational building, the spaces of the residence and, especially, its circulation and common areas, are structured around the longest possible stepped courtyard, which expands at higher levels. This courtyard divides the building longitudinally into two unequal volumes at the lower levels, and not only articulates the volumes and their uses but further becomes the basic orientation reference for users. For this purpose, a single large courtyard is preferable over the option of two party-wall-facing courtyards foreseen in the given planning scheme.
The main uses of the building, day center and residence, are structured by levels instead of by volumes, thus minimizing vertical movement. The residence is given the privacy of the higher levels (first and second floors) and a relationship with the gardens and exterior spaces. The day center is situated almost entirely on the ground floor. The uses of the different levels are as follows:
Basement level: parking, building services, kitchen and personnel area.
Ground level: gym towards the Gran Via, dining room towards the courtyard and workshops in the volume located in the interior of the block . The gym and the workshops increase their height towards the façade, introducing natural light and widening the spaces.
Attic level: all spaces face the courtyard. The administration is located in the Gran Via volume, and the smaller units and occasional use areas for the day center (medic, psychologist and visiting rooms) in the rear volume. First floor level: two “homes” on both sides of the courtyard, with a common terrace over the courtyard that links both living and dining rooms.
Second floor level: third “home” in the rear volume and a garden on the roof of the Gran Via volume.
Third floor level: building services accessible from the garden on the second level through an exterior staircase.
The circulation and common areas are ample, with a large vestibule at the end wall of the courtyard, both for functional (circulation of groups, stretchers and wheelchairs) and environmental reasons. The only room for caregivers/nursing requested in the residential area has been broken down into three slightly smaller rooms, one per each “home”, facilitating their independent operation. A storage room is also provided to each of these, complementary to their laundry rooms, linen rooms and storage areas.