In a recent social housing competition in Madrid, entrants were challenged to revitalise the spatial fabrics of one of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods of the city. With a tight budget and restricted building regulations, the competitors aimed to discover new spaces under highly limited conditions that would allow a fresh architectural perspective.
Architecture firm FABRIC believes that the solution is to introduce one floor of duplex apartments. Since duplexes are regarded as one floor it is possible to create a volume that formally consists of seven floors, stays within the height limitation, and has the capacity of containing 111 apartments. The result is an overcapacity of 12 apartments, i.e. extra space.
The biggest luxury architecture can offer residents in Puente de Vallecas is space. By shifting the floors of a conventional housing slab outwards, large galleries are created. Subtracting the volume of 12 apartments at the ends of the volume creates spectacular space collective program. The alternating shifting of floors not only creates wide galleries, it also makes it possible to create an outside circulation. Spiralling along the building this circulation links the entire collective program.
The combination of small rational dwellings with wide collective galleries that link to communal programmes such as a water garden, herbal garden, solarium, fitness and guestrooms result in new opportunities for living. Since all living areas are situated at the gallery side and all gallery facades open widely, residents will consider the circulation space partly as their outdoor space.
This feeling will be emphasised by substituting the customary railing by a floor to ceiling net that can support plants to grow. Furthermore the net will provide maximum contact with the surrounding area and thus invite people to use the galleries like ‘streets in the air’: sitting in the door opening, eating on the side walk.