arquitectura

Apartment Block close to the Highway

Architects

Nacho Ruiz Allen, José Antonio Ruiz Esquiroz

Collaborators

Angel Remacha Ruiz (quantity surveyor), Ingeniería Lauquiegui (structural engineer), Incoa ingenieros (mechanical engineer)

Client

Maestroarena, proyectos y promociones

Location

Noaín, Navarra, Spain

Year(s)

2004-2007

Photographs

Miguel de Guzmán, RAAL

Awards

Shortlisted (2009) - X Spanish Architecture Biennial. Madrid, Spain


APARTMENT BLOCK CLOSE TO THE HIGHWAY

The building is located on the outskirts of Pamplona, although it could well be in the vicinity of any highway. In this particular case, there is a view of the junction that connects the city with Zaragoza, Barcelona and Madrid to the north, and Jaca and the Pyrenees to the east, from every panoramic window.

The shape and volume of this building respond to an urban masterplan that ambitions to hide the backside of the existing urban fabric. The project's starting point was a curved building, about 60 meters long per 15 meters deep and seven floors high. This building was conceived as a retaining screen where two different conditions were negotiated: on the one hand, the infrastructural, marked by speed, efficiency and generic language; on the other, the urban fabric, characterized by the domestic, the everyday and the specific. This duality is solved through a two-sided strategy: first, with a compact, horizontal and light façade facing the highway, materialized by a corrugated double-curved steel panel and red reflecting folding shutters; and with an abstract and fragmented façade on the opposite side of the building, facing the existing fabric. This rear façade has been built with coloured fibro-cement panels and vertical windows.

The housing typology questions the homogeneity often imposed by the real estate market, which only considers a single type of family. As an alternative, ten different types of dwellings are proposed, adapting to the diverse needs of the current heterogeneous society: small families with one or more children, couples without children, freelancers who may need a workspace at home, students, singles, retired people, etc. The different types are organized around three distributors located on floors 1, 3 and 5, thus obtaining apartments with one to four bedrooms and a variable surface area of between 40 and 160 m2. The result is an assemblage of one- and two-storey dwellings that recalls Le Corbusier's 'Unité d'habitation'. Besides, there are courtyards on the last two floors of the building through which natural light permeates into apartments and corridors.

The openings and materials of the façades make explicit the duality of character between the highway and the residential fabric. Instead of transcribing the typological complexity of the interior, they conceal it and refract the exterior, without mimicking or simulating it; an exterior that we find attractive because of its generic and vulgar character.