La Vallita Mágica

La Vallita Mágica is both an urban activism strategy and a prototype of civic design, which would allow many public schools without much space, located next to squares and parks in congested urban environments, to use part of these as one more playground for their students.

Many of the public schools in the center of Madrid have small playgrounds, sandwiched between buildings. They are noisy, without views and without sunlight, conditions that have a negative impact on the health and development of young schoolchildren. Buying lots to expand these patios does not seem economically feasible given that the center of Madrid is dense and expensive. This same situation can be extrapolated to other cities in Spain. For those schools located in squares and parks, La Vallita Mágica could be a feasible and almost immediate solution.

In this sense, the Pi y Margall Center for Infant and Primary Education in Plaza Dos de Mayo in Madrid is a good case study: at the same time that children are at school, the square that gives access to the school is practically empty, and it will be empty until the end of the working day, when it will be filled with people having a drink on the terraces or in the square. The school is publicly owned. The square is publicly owned. Couldn’t a part of this square be prepared to serve as a school yard just when this square is empty, and do it in conditions in which the privacy and safety of children can be guaranteed?

The squares need street furniture, which, if not placed, will end up privatized in the form of terraces for bars and restaurants. The squares need seats and shadows that can be vegetation or in the form of pergolas that, in addition, have a structure capable of mounting solar panels and other useful elements for the city.

In Plaza 2 de Mayo, we could have pergolas that would shade its central part, play with the trees and perhaps add a little more green to the whole. During school hours, when the square is empty, the pergola lowers and closes a section of the square, becomes a fence and allows the school to use part of the square for outdoor activities.

It would be a series of standard mechanisms, already commonly used, tested and safe. They only need small design adjustments to adapt them to this new use.

Greenpeace Spain Offices

Greenpeace Spain transfers its headquarters to an old warehouse with hardly any light or natural ventilation. The redesign project will have a decisive impact on the ability of Greenpeace to offer a workspace that responds to the philosophy, expectations and objectives of the organization. In some way, Greenpeace has to transfer to the street Valores 1 not only its headquarters and its workers, but its aspirations.

The lack of light in the space does not depend solely on its semi-buried position. The biggest problem is because their facades are very far from each other. The space is very regular, which gives it some flexibility, but too wide and deep. Likewise, despite being an old warehouse, it does not have overhead light, as is the case in most industrial warehouses, originally dedicated to this use. For all this, the space does not seem suitable to us to host, without changes, a contemporary workspace.

It is impossible to incorporate light and ventilation in a “natural” way, through facades or roofs, since the partial rental model of a property, as is the case, does not allow substantial changes in its shape, arrangement or structure. We therefore think that we must incorporate light, air, nature in a somewhat more artificial way, making the most of the signs and facilities provided by the preexistence.

We propose to introduce a “street” inside the space, following the direction of the main entrance. This street will not only distribute people, but also light, air, energy, vegetation and, in general, all the systems that build and condition the space. In some ways it is as if the Greenpeace workers are introducing, with their insistence and will, a glimpse of nature through the entrance.

We propose to reuse all the existing fluorescence luminaries, concentrating them nevertheless on the ceiling of this interior street, in such a way that they illuminate an interior garden. The air is pushed through a fabric duct located on the ceiling of this street, while the extraction is carried out through the northern and southern walls of the premises. The blown air is cleaned as it passes through the interior vegetation, before it is filtered into the work and meeting spaces. In summer, a more humid environment will be in this street, which, in a dry climate like Madrid, helps to lower the temperature by evaporation. In winter, heat accumulated due to the energy produced by outside insolation, interior lighting and heat sources such as computers and kitchens, will take time to dissipate thanks to the few facades and windows, as well as an intelligent use of thermal insulation.

Greenpeace Relocation

In 2016, Greenpeace Spain plans to move its offices, until then located in a rented first floor in a block on Calle San Bernardo, in Madrid. Greenpeace asked us to carry out a feasibility study to decide between the different options they were considering. After a detailed analysis of the different possibilities, we opted for a disused industrial warehouse, located in Calle Salamanca, for which we carried out different simulations of occupation, organization and operation.


Factoria Cultural Madrid

Factoría Cultural is the adaptation of a hall in Matadero Madrid to house an incubator of creative industries start-ups. We used very few, cheap, and easy to install materials, and we tried to achieve with them as many different and distinct work areas as possible, adapted to different needs. Three volumes near the entrance organize the space, folding and compressing the circulations around it. This creates a gradient, from compact to expansive, from busy to silent, that helps achieve variety in workspaces. In a little less than one month we built a reversible, vacuum-packed, 105-eur/m2 work, adaptable to the multitude of situations the client asked for.

To house the needed 120 workspaces in a 399 sq. m. floor area (that needed to be further reduced to 340 sq. m. in order to maintain a public pass-through) was impossible, unless we found more space using the height of the hall. This created additional problems since there was not enough money to achieve the construction of a second floor by traditional means. We decided to use very simple building systems: the cheapest local pine lumber, all in the same standard size, which simplified the supply and construction of the structure, and multi-wall polycarbonate, very lightweight and in large sheets, which allowed for the walls to be finished in just one day. We were able to achieve 85 more sq.m and crucially to split functions in two levels, which allows for more flexibility in use that the client is now making very good use of.


Kids Daycare

The client, a foundation, had an enormous space but very little money to transform the space into a nursery and daycare school in Vallecas. We decided to touch the space as little as possible and create three classrooms, like three little homes, within a forest of pillars. Each one of these little homes has its own character and effectively uses the space to augment the children’s experiences and interactions. The spaces between the three classrooms are left open to be used by various activities


In the same neighborhoods where the sport facilities weren’t enough, in the 90’s, roundabouts became excessive. The civic void created by these was filled with kitsch sculptures. Our purpose revives dead space and turns the citizens’ sport into a show. The metallic fence’s texture turns the sport spaces into a screen and the players into silhouettes.

Olympic Games Athens ‘04

While Athens does not have a lack in housing, it does lack green space. The arrival of the Olympics provides the opportunity to create open areas associated to infrastructure and tertiary uses integrated in the city, instead of making another tired ‘Olympic village’. It is also possible to consider the use of the surrounding office buildings as a more logical kind of Olympic accommodation: Contemporary problems such as the need for heightened security are a second nature to the office building.Their intrinsic flexibility allows for the complete reconfiguration of each floor plan, making the adaptation of the spaces for athlete accommodation extremely easy. As the Olympic games take place during Athens’ summer vacation period a considerable amount of office space could be up for athlete’s habitation use. Each athlete receives a room supplied with furniture made from recycled cardboard that is easy and fast to assemble. Each piece of furniture is financed by one of the main Olympic Games Partner companies. A game between each piece of furniture and its sponsor is established.

El Prado Museum roof

The object of the contest was to adapt the El Prado Museum’s roof structure to modern museum conditions. We believed it was essential to distinguish between the original neoclassical building designed by Villanueva, and the very poor later additions. Therefore the horizontal cut across those roof volumes liberates the original cornice. The new “light boxes” gave the possibility to see the sky hovering over the exhibition rooms, while allowing full control of lighting conditions and perfect maintenance. The design of these light boxes was completely adapted to each of the rooms, with special attention given so light was directed at the right angle. As a final detail and a nod to a very current past, we proposed to place an angel on the Puerta de Goya, as an interpretation of the original sculpture, which relates to the control of the creative process.