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Projects

ArchitectsAlex Gallego, Jordi Adell, David Tapias, Gerard Puig

CollaboratorsRicard Pau, Julia Nabona

LocationSant Cugat

ForAjuntament de Sant Cugat

CommissionPublic restricted competition. First prize.

Year2018-ongoing

m24421

La Mirada, Co-designing a School

The pedagogical project of La Mirada is much more than a building. Its lively community of teachers and parents are constantly looking for ways to help children to develop their talents and interests to the fullest. This school is a pilot project where our public institutions will explore more healthy, ecological and optimistic learning environments. Co-design workshops were carried through as part of the architecture process.

TERRITORY / ECOSYSTEM

41°28’58.6″N 2°04’22.2″E Sant Cugat is a town behind the Collserola mountains. Its population grew fast during the second half of the XXth century, mainly from affluent families from Barcelona seeking for a quieter life. Its Mediterranean climate is a little more humid and cool than the capital on the other side of the hills.


NEEDS AND HOPES

La Mirada school was founded in 2016, and its nearly 250 children were placed in temporary barracks. Teachers and parents had been asking for a new building ever since. So the municipality and the Departament d’Ensenyament decided to organise an architecture competition, which we won.

The seed was planted by the school's own pedagogical project.

The school's provisional playground.

The school's temporary barracks.

Parents asking for a better place.

Co-design process with school teachers and staff.

Co-design process with school teachers and staff.

Outcome of one of the co-design sessions with the school's teachers and staff.


SOURCES

Volpelleres is a neighbourhood on the edge of town, that has moved from farm fields to a new residential area only since 2003. Its name comes from a masia that´s been documented since 1161. It means something like House of Foxes. Sant Cugat was surrounded by more than 110 of these masies. On the edge of these new settlements, there is still a forest left, which was legally protected a few years ago. The site is on the edge of this forest. It has two main parts: a flat one close to the main road, and a steep one adjacent to the old trees.


DIAGNOSE

The school’s program is too big to be built only in the flat side of the site. Therefore a layout that adapts to two very different relief conditions is needed. It also needs to encompass a proper orientation and facade for each learning space.


SEARCH AND PLAN

Which is the spatial configuration that will adapt to these two very different conditions, while allowing that all spaces within and around the building become learning opportunities through play and meaningful activities for both children and adults? More specifically, how to get enough outdoor playgrounds, and that there are not aisles and corridors but just communal learning spots? Some corridors become porches where rooms open up to.

Two very different building systems are chosen: prefabricated concrete for the flat side, which can resist a heavier structure, and prefabricated post-and-beam timber for the slope, to make this side as light as possible. When the project was almost finished, we were asked to move the site 90 metres to the north because of an administrative miscoordination. Luckily the topographical conditions were almost identical, so we could keep the main deign scheme. However, this raises questions about how site-specific this building really is.

 

An indoors agora becomes the core of the flat side, while outdoor open classrooms are placed on the slope, underneath and in-between new trees that become an extension to the existing forest on the east.

A school for the forest.

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