Author: Carlos Chamorro Cuenca
Year : 2014
Function: kindergarten + community facilities
Site location: Madrid
City and date of birth: Alcalá de Henares, 18/08/1992
University / Institution : Universidad de Alcalá (UAH)
Tutors: Clara Murado
In the dense structure of central Madrid, every void is an opportunity to rethink the urban landscape. If a large and obsolete public facility is scraped off the map, a new space of freedom may be born. Could we consider the loss as an opportunity?
By the turn of the century, both the 50-years-old Mercado de la Cebada and the annexe sports centre were facing their end, as the whole complex was to be rebuilt into a new facility, privately-held. The sports centre, the only one in La Latina neighbourhood, was demolished in 2009… just as the housing market collapsed. Investors fled, no one wanted to start such a risky enterprise. A vacant, sunken area of more than 5000 m2 was left empty.
Shortly after this, people of all ages among the neighbours of Latina tried to recover this area for the community’s use. They came together under the name of El Campo de la Cebada and negotiated with the Council the cession of the vacant lot. Since then, this place has become a new place for collaboration and empowerment of citizens, growing a strong sense of identity.
How can architecture “happen” without constraining this freedom? How can we promote the process of empowerment and strengthen the sense of community?
Learning Landscapes is a project for a school at Campo de la Cebada whose aim is to put program, urban image and building technology together. It’s thought as a synergy between a kindergarten and spaces for the community.
The project is structured as the linkage of two different parts: three prisms at the lowest level of the plot, which house workshops for the community, and the one-story volume of the school, at street level. Where the blocks intersect the kindergarten, the children take part in the different activities, learning through experience: the members of the community become teachers of the young ones.
Therefore, the original area of the plot is kept free under the school, and becomes a playground with an urban dimension, connected to the public domain through gentle slopes: a sunken plaza, a space where people of all ages can come together and create a sense of community.
We want the playground to be a large, open space, so the volume of the school must rest on the three blocks of workshops. With this purpose, we have designed a latticed-timber bidirectional structure, which changes its depth according to the bending moment stress in each point. This is not just a structural system, but also the main feature of the playground. Both the ceiling and the floor of this open space will have a topographical value.
The volume of the school is laid as an open plan space, where a series of longitudinal patios are carved. These patios provide the structure to the plan, defining the different areas, while allowing a diaphanous perception of space.
and providing an overall diffuse lighting. In this way, a totally different landscape is created, connected to the lower one through the patios.
At the upper level, the green roof strengthens the oddity of the urban void created with the demolition of the old sports centre. A countryside landscape is decontextualized and transplanted into the very heart of the city: a childish utopia, between grass and blue skies.
On the whole, the project is a conceptual stacking of landscapes: topographical, diaphanous and picturesque; creating a refreshing atmosphere and an exciting set of spaces and perceptions that will stimulate the learning process of the little ones, while enhancing the community network.