A prototype for the general invasion of rooftops and other residual spaces with high biodiversity, redemptive ecosystems, USS-s serve as seeds, catalyzing a natural recuperation of the city’s surfaces. Their uses range from scientific and educative to recreational, while they capture carbon emissions and generate oxygen. ETFE’s double skin allows for the structure to be lightweight and creates a heat exchange. Rainwater accumulates in underbelly bags, while the texture design of the structure itself helps channel the airflow to generate electricity. Secondary use as ultra-fine particulate collector has demonstrated capable of passively cleaning street-level air near host buildings. A 40% of this prototype (USS 1.0) was built and tested within the exhibition Souls & Machines, Digital Art & New Media, held in 2008, at the National Art Museum Reina Sofía in Madrid. In 2016, a 1:1 prototype was built for the Art Triennial Emscherkunst. Placed on top of an existent building, docked onto the air conditioning of the surrounding buildings, it created a cleaning circulation; the building’s waste air and warmth were filtered by the USSs plants, cleaned, and enriched with oxygen before it was led back into the building.
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.
There is probably no other building with as much pressure from visitors throughout the Campus of Justice as the Civil Registry. The huge flow of users to the Registry makes natural to perceive it as a continuation of the public space of the Campus. It is difficult to understand the Civil Registry as a building of ordinary offices when, unlike the others buildings located on the Campus, most of its surface is for public access. We decided that the Archive of the Civil Registry, by its importance and size, should become the structuring element and the server of the rest of the space, instead of a mere basement. Circulations become clearer and more efficient if public access occurs closer to the center of gravity. The typical offices building, with its repeated slabs and partitions is a riddle for the large number of visitors that require its use. On the contrary, the Archive, manipulated and raised, can serve as a large structural floor at the scale of the Campus public space, simplifying the structure of the building. The façade surface of the building becomes a third smaller than expected, which leads to savings in construction and energy consumption. The building closes to prepare and use a part of the park: it is almost as if the citizen did their paperwork in the Retiro park. The skin is made by a double layer of ETFE cushions, with a heat exchange chamber inside and programmable solar control devices. The continuation of the park and the public space of the Campus inside the building creates an ideal winter garden for the celebration of weddings. They will have an accidental enthusiast audience as they wait to resolve their own issues.
The municipal planning guidelines called for for a five storey block structure with tiny enclosed patios that would provide very little light to inner rooms. We chose to figuratively “commit suicide” in public (for the first time) and draw attention with a proposal that put the lives of future inhabitants before and above the fulfillment of absurd rules, even if it cost us all chances of winning the competition. The smaller footprint of the new building allowed green areas and sports facilities in a place where they were becoming scarce. In addition, the new higher building would become a marker, a sign of the nearby train station. It also intended to be the start of a prouder skyline for Leganés which is a bedroom-town completely built up in the postwar period at a constant height. The new tower established an ambiguous relationship with the locals and visitors to the city, somewhere between familiarity and pride.