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ArchitectsALEX GALLEGO, JORDI ADELL, DAVID TAPIAS, GERARD PUIG

CollaboratorsRICARD PAU, JULIA NABONA

LocationIGUALADA

ForDEPARTAMENT D'ENSENYAMENT

CommissionPublic restricted competition. First prize.

BuilderGRUP MAS, SERVIOBRES

Years2017-2020

Badia i Margarit High School, Learning on a Creek

An extension and renewal that creates a threshold which links the existing school and gym with the new high school, while becoming the new core of this institution. The extension adapts to the extremely narrow site, by opening up to the far views and making several playgrounds and encounter places for kids along it.

TERRITORY / ECOSYSTEM

41°34’38.0″N 1°38’02.8″E The school is in Igualada, a small inland city in Catalonia. It has a slightly more humid and cold climate than litoral cities. Enric Miralles is buried there. The river Anoia passes around it. A big textile and tannery industry was developed in the XIXth century by the river, bringing with it prosperity and population growth. It was almost totally dismantled during the last part of the XXth century.


NEEDS AND HOPES

The school needs to expand its high school section. The gymnasium and a few classrooms in the old school also need repair. A public two phase architectural competition was organised by the Catalan government, which we won.


SOURCES

The only available spot is a thin long stretch of land with a east-west orientation parallel to the riera d’Òdena below. There is a steep slope between them. It is adjacent to the gymnasium, but isolated from the rest of the school. The old school has an in-situ cast concrete structure, with brick walls covered in some parts with green tiles.

Public path from the creek to the site. One of our main proposals in the competition phase was to keep it.

Neighbor farm.

Site.

Line of trees parallel to the site.

Mapping trees on site.

Existing school that needs to be enlarged.

Material palette.

Existing school entrance hall.

Existing school classroom.

Existing school classroom.

Existing gym that needs to be upcycled.


DIAGNOSE

How to connect the new and old buildings while giving a big enough playground and optimal orientation to the new building? There is also an old pathway that comes up from the river, which would be interesting to maintain.


SEARCH AND PLAN

The first decision is to make long and narrow rectangular prism tangent to the public square on the west so that it frees as much playground to the east as possible. The structural spans and orthogonal shape of the new volume allow for an easily prefabricated concrete structure, made just 70 kms. away. Termoarcilla walls allow us to build membranes with different porosities according to the orientation and indoor program needs, from ventilated facades to lattices. Within this compact body, two courtyards bring a better sun orientation for the classrooms. A light steel structure bridges and connects the new high school, the refurbished gym and the old school on the first floor level. Beneath it, a porch that is the new gateway to the place.

Transformation stages:


MATERIALIZATION

Termoarcilla lattices had to be replaced by clinker bricks that were certified to resist frost, which is quite common in Igualada during winter. The building block was different, but the wall’s porous properties were kept intact. When dismantling the gym’s ceiling, the effects of an old hidden fire were exposed. The structure had to be reinforced and that part of the project modified. The construction process was stopped for two months because Igualada was one of the main COVID-19 infection focuses in Catalonia.

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