NEW COMMONS LIBRARY AND CAFETERIA – American School of Madrid

Pozuelo de Alarcón / Spain / 2016

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Architecture: Luis Gayarre Studio


Interior design: IsabelLopezVilalta+Associates


Having recently brought in new technologies and teaching methods, the American School in Madrid also decided to expand and renovate the library and dining areas. Both spaces, built with traditional methods and proportions, had largely fallen into disuse. The renovation sought to reanimate and transform them, once more, into the neurological center of the school.


The project enlarged both areas and focused on maximizing natural light. To achieve this, containment walls in the basement were moved, along with some doors on the ground floor which became curtain walls. These created greater permeability with the outside, as well as allowing more light to enter.


The expansion produced two new spaces on the ground level: the common area and the dining room, separated only by a glass door. The commons, which is more open-plan, was designed to be entirely flexible, with students able to eat, read, play, exhibit, create and exchange ideas there. As such, it is a space that adapts itself to the needs of students and teachers at all times, where each student can learn at his own rhythm, and where teachers can tailor their classes for individuals and groups in a cable-free environment.


The design team chose a series of furnishings to facilitate these multiple uses: benches with tables, ideal for sharing a meal or working in groups, light-weight armchairs and low tables of various sizes allow for individual study or reading for pleasure.


The library, meanwhile, has reading spaces and sound-proof audiovisual areas, as well as individual and group study areas. As in the commons, the furniture has been specifically designed or chosen to maximise comfort and utility.


The kitchen and dining room are located on the basement level. The dining room, which connects to the ground level via two white, perforated staircases and a glass elevator, is larger than previously, and also improves on brightness and accessibility.


The kitchen and cafeteria have also been redesigned to be more comfortable and to make a better use of space. They are independent from the dining room once mealtimes have finished. This means that the dining room can be then used for other purposes throughout the day. The innovative materials used in this space contribute to a cozy and up-to-date atmosphere: wood lined walls, white perforated sheeting, and acoustic insulation and a linoleum floor. The self-service area of the dining room features colored tiles, which are functional without taking away from the design features of the false ceilings made of expanded mesh which reveal the kitchen facilities.


The final product puts a new and stimulating face on the school. Existing structural elements have been emphasized, as in the dining room, where the hanging beams dictate the lines of the false ceiling, or in the common area, where we can see the old metallic strucuture based on trusses and corrugated sheet metal.


All this combines to give the school a new identity. It is both aesthetically improved, and features a more effective use of the installations.

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    Architecture: Luis Gayarre Studio Interior design: IsabelLopezVilalta+Associates Having recently brought in new technologies and teaching methods, the American School in Madrid also decided to expand and renovate the library and dining areas. Both spaces, built with traditional methods and proportions, had largely fallen into disuse. The renovation sought to reanimate and transform them, once more, into the neurological center of the school. The project enlarged both areas and focused...

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