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ArchitectsAlex Gallego, Jordi Adell, David Tapias, Gerard Puig

CollaboratorsRicard Pau, Julia Nabona

LocationSant Cugat

ForAjuntament de Sant Cugat

CommissionPublic restricted competition. First prize.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Search questions

As a consequence of our search as architects, we also produce understanding and knowledge made of words -written and spoken. This search revolves around twelve constant themes, questions we don’t have a definitive answer to yet. This knowledge is not just a by-product of our activity, but rather an instrumental part that develops simultaneously and is imbricated in building. Search Questions is our sisyphean effort to organize and share this knowledge while it's blossoming, fragile and unstable. By doing so, a more specific understanding, and more refined questions emerge.

1. Pequeñas Cabañas BIY

An exploration on children's innate drive and ability to build, and some huts that they can build together with grown-ups. Published by Editorial Gustavo Gili.

2. Endless beginnings

Graduation Ceremony. AAA. Aarhus, Denmark. September 2020.

Journal paper
3. OE House

ARQ 94. Universidad Católica de Chile. With Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau.

4. Open Process Ecosystems

Beyond Product Platforms for multi-storey habitats design and manufacturing. With Duncan Maxwell.

5. Subrural

An incipient theory of the subrural, first published in Catalan in AT magazine, edited by Nuria Casais and Ferran Grau.