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5 public dwellings “Concepción Arenal”

  • Location: Badajoz
  • Client: Inmuba
  • Date: 2018 -
  • Principal Architect: AZAB  Cristina Acha, Miguel Zaballa, Ane Arce, Iñigo Berasategui
  • Structural Architec: Iñigo Ibañez
  • Services Engineer: Unai Martínez de la Hidalga
  • Photographs: Jorge Isla

The building occupies an empty plot in the historical city centre of Badajoz. The site is defined by two opposite street alignments with different levels and irregular party walls of the neighbouring houses.

The city regulations make an intense effort in preserving this borough. Besides cataloguing main buildings, the local building code protects the character of the humble neighbourhood with small and fragmented dwellings, profusion of patios and similar facades that bring together a vibrant cohesion. The proposed volume responds to the scale of the historical district with dense blocks aligned along narrow streets and it´s interior composition based in small units in a continuous display, all splashed by patios. Each small house is unique in this area and that is one of the remarkable aspects of the project. A building designed from austerity to become an additional component in it’s block of random volumes, all different, all similar. The project tools are the simple rules that define the area, with the exception of the emphasis on the common space for the five dwellings.

Three central regular bays are complemented by two irregular areas that solve the occupation in both inner sides in contact with the existing party walls. Four maisonettes, an apartment and the common corridors fix in the regular structure flanked by the private stairs in the irregular sides.

The regular structural grid is crossed by two upright patios. 

Four of the five units are designed as two-story homes. This solution allows to consume the maximum living space assigned to the plot by the occupation of the under roof spaces which can not be independent from lower levels. 

The five stacked units have access from street level corridors and visual contact with the streets.

The two access corridors are indeed a hybrid common space. An intermediate area between the narrow street and each home. A two level space that passes through the building, illuminated by the inner patios and visually connected. A complementary indoor/outdoor area that refreshes the building in hot summer days with shadows and crossing air.

This city fragment cherishes heritage traces from all historical periods of the city growth, from Roman to Visigothic periods, Muslim and Mudejar and later modern transformations. More recently the Music School building was constructed in this same plot. It was a modest one floor hall with gable roof, regular window composition, top ledge and painted plinth. After it’s demolition some traces survive on the neighbouring party walls and of course, there are shared memories and disperse photographic records.

The proposed facade recovers the memory of the disappeared school and it uses the previous facade as another layer in the final composition. It is not a historicizing restoration. It is a response to the common identity construction in the city. The new facade includes the old one as glaze over the new window apertures tightly restricted by the old city regulations.

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