THE CITY AS BACKDROP

SANT MIQUEL SPECIAL EDUCATION SCHOOL Sant Feliu de Llobregat (Barcelona) / Spain / 2011

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Apart from its mere built container, a school is nothing more than a place where teaching and learning take place. This project, therefore, reflects the desire to interact with the city, revealing the flows and activities that occur within the immediate environment of the site. Moreover, this school converges with the work of the Xamfrà Sant Miquel Foundation, which is devoted to preparing young people from 16 to 20 years with mild mental disabilities for integration into employment: we are committed to integrating its pupils into society and work so that they form part of the social fabric. In view of this goal of generating relations, the structure of the new building is resolved by a rhythmic sequence of slender perimeter ribs, which line the building front. This solution creates better-lighted, more open and highly versatile spaces. However, above all, it generates a front that is permeable in both directions: from the school towards the city, and from the city to the interior spaces. Moreover, in the existing building that formerly housed the old stables, the original windows over the front are bricked over, though slightly sunken in order to conserve the historic memory of this element. The new rectangular openings that are installed, and are in contrast with the old windows, frame the urban landscape almost in the manner of a painting by Antonio López. The project employs volumetric force to resolve the complex, irregular geometry of the site. For instance, a triangular volume, with ground floor and basement, adjoins the north side (providing optimal lighting for study), whilst the rectangle of the existing building occupies the east corner. The triangular extension is lowrise in order to minimise the environmental impact of new works. Finally, a courtyard provides the rooms in the basement with natural light and ventilation. All routes through the common zones in the school (stairs, landings, corridors and vestibules) are designed to become “places of social attraction” – spaces for encounters, meetings and exchanges, generously proportioned, enjoying natural lighting and, always, open to the city as backdrop. In order to frame views of the city itself, the perimeter structure is painted black, like a picture frame, whilst the interior finishes are given austere, light colours. It will be the future users, therefore, whose presence imbues the school with life and colour, leaving the architecture as a neutral, yet orderly, frame for the students and teachers. In short, all the decisions taken to define the project seek to further these rich and subtle relations between the interior and the exterior. The solutions include, for example, the design of the steel net “non-fence”, the patterned front, the light-filled common spaces, the new windows over the existing building and the longitudinal skylight that provides the overall architecture for communications. All these solutions are aimed particularly at generating relations between the inhabitants and the immediate landscape of the city, precisely so that this place can become a space for teaching and learning. Technical specifications of the main sections of the work done: • STRUCTURE The horizontal structure is built out of reinforced concrete slabs measuring 30 cm thick on the first and second floors, 35 cm thick in the basement and 40 cm thick on the ground floor, with 16-mmgauge base reinforcement below every 20 cm and 12-mm-gauge base reinforcement above every 20 cm. In many areas, the slab is exposed and has no false ceilings, hence it is shuttered using phenolic panels. The exterior façade structure consists of vertical uprights made of structural tubing measuring 160x60x8 mm placed every 300/600/900 mm, welded at the bottom onto plate moulding of 4 mm and 300 mm maximum length and welded at the top to the beam. Treated with fire-resistant paint and later painted with colour RAL 7022. • INTERIOR FAÇADE WALL The interior façade wall, situated between slabs, consists of special horizontal omega profile measuring 132x41x5 mm, continuous above and below, in aluminium lacquered in matt grey colour RL252L, and windows with internal chamber consisting of outer low-emission plate glass measuring 10 mm, a structural chamber of 12 mm with black rod and interior laminated glass measuring 6+6 mm. Windows formed using projecting modules and pivoting doors adapted to the interior façade wall. • FLOORING Continuous Durit magnesite flooring that is greyish in colour. • INTERNAL PARTITIONS AND FALSE CEILINGS Internal partitions made using two sheets of laminated plasterboard measuring 15 mm, finished with plastic paint. False ceilings made of sheets of laminated plasterboard measuring 15 mm, with hidden frame and finished with plastic paint. There are also false ceilings made of OSB with wood shavings and hidden frame and subsequently varnished. • EXTERIOR BARRIER Exterior barrier made of connecting panels measuring 2250x1500 mm, with 30x30 mm mesh, screwed to galvanised steel vertical uprights measuring 80x8 mm anchored to the concrete foundation. [SP] Una escuela no es más que un lugar donde se enseña y se aprende, más allá del mero contenedor edificado. El proyecto que nos ocupa, por tanto, refleja la voluntad de interactuar con la ciudad, mostrando los flujos y actividades que se dan en el entorno próximo de la parcela. Además, ésta escuela converge con la labor de la Fundació Xamfrà Sant Miquel (dedicada a la preparación laboral de chicos y chicas de 16 a 20 años con disminución psíquica leve): apostamos pues por la reinserción social y laboral de sus alumnos sobre el tejido de la ciudadanía. Dada esta voluntad de relación, la estructura del nuevo edificio se resuelve con una sucesión rítmica de esbeltas costillas perimetrales, a faz con la fachada. Así, se logran espacios más diáfanos, libres y de gran flexibilidad. Pero sobre todo, se consigue una fachada permeable en su doble sentido: de la escuela hacia la ciudad, y de la ciudad hacia el interior de sus espacios. Por otro lado, en el edificio existente de las antiguas caballerizas, las ventanas antiguas sobre la fachada sur se tapian, aunque rehundidas levemente, para preservar la memoria histórica del edificio. Sin embargo, las nuevas aperturas rectangulares practicadas, y que contrastan con las anteriores, enmarcan el paisaje urbano como si de una pintura de Antonio López se tratara. Desde la contundencia volumétrica es como el proyecto da respuesta a la irregular y compleja geometría del solar. Así, un volumen triangular, de planta baja y sótano, se adosa en el lado norte (luz óptima para el estudio), mientras el rectángulo del edificio existente se completa en la esquina este. La baja altura de la ampliación triangular minimiza el impacto de la nueva edificación en el entorno. Y mediante un patio inglés, las estancias de la planta sótano obtienen la luz natural y ventilación. Todos los recorridos a través de los espacios comunes en la escuela (escaleras, rellanos, pasillos y vestíbulos) se proyectan de forma que se conviertan en atractores sociales; espacios de encuentro, reunión e intercambio, de dimensiones generosas, iluminados naturalmente y, siempre, abiertos a la ciudad como telón de fondo. Para que las vistas sobre la propia ciudad queden enmarcadas, la estructura perimetral se pinta de negro, como los bastidores de un cuadro, mientras que los acabados interiores se terminan con tonalidades claras y austeras. Serán pues los futuros usuarios quienes aporten con su presencia la vida y el color, dejando que la arquitectura sea un marco neutro, pero pautado, para sus estudiantes y profesores. Todas las decisiones del proyecto, en definitiva, recalan en esta sutil y rica relación entre el interior y el exterior. Así, por ejemplo, se diseñaron la “no-valla” calada, las fachadas tramadas, los luminosos espacios comunes, las nuevas ventanas sobre el edificio existente o el lucernario longitudinal que articula todas las comunicaciones. Cualquier motivo pretende únicamente relacionar a sus habitantes con el paisaje inmediato de la ciudad, precisamente para que este lugar se convierta en un espacio donde aprender y enseñar.
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    Apart from its mere built container, a school is nothing more than a place where teaching and learning take place. This project, therefore, reflects the desire to interact with the city, revealing the flows and activities that occur within the immediate environment of the site. Moreover, this school converges with the work of the Xamfrà Sant Miquel Foundation, which is devoted to preparing young people from 16 to 20 years with mild mental disabilities for integration into employment: we are...

    Project details
    • Year 2011
    • Work finished in 2011
    • Client Municipality of Sant Feliu de Llobregat (Barcelona), Spain
    • Contractor XEDEX, SA (Barcelona), Spain
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Schools/Institutes
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