Jorge Chapa

The Beautifully Unfolding Ocho Casas Housing Complex

by , 11/17/08

ocho casas inscritas y tres patios, eight inscribed houses and three courtyards, spanish architecture, world architecture festival, spain, barcelona, santamargarita, sustainable architecture, sustainable social architecture, passive design architecture

Frequent passerby in the neighborhood of Santa Margarita, Spain may find themselves a bit lost when they can’t seem to find the white wall they just passed by. Appearing at first as a simple sheet of folded paper, this beautiful white-walled building features a facade of panels that open in brilliant pops of color. Designed by Romera y Ruiz Arquitectos, “Ocho casas inscritas y tres patios” is a sustainably constructed social housing complex with a facade that changes according to the wishes of its inhabitants!

ocho casas inscritas y tres patios, eight inscribed houses and three courtyards, spanish architecture, world architecture festival, spain, barcelona, santamargarita, sustainable architecture, sustainable social architecture, passive design architecture

Showing once again that Spanish architects are at the forefront of simple yet effective architectural design Romera y Ruiz Arquitectos Ocho Casas project was nominated as a finalist at the World Architecture Festival recently held in Barcelona. The name translates to “Eight inscribed houses and three courtyards”, referring to the unique geometry of the building, which essentially allows each unit to share one of the three patios within.

ocho casas inscritas y tres patios, eight inscribed houses and three courtyards, spanish architecture, world architecture festival, spain, barcelona, santamargarita, sustainable architecture, sustainable social architecture, passive design architecture

The main goal of the project was to reduce the natural resource consumption of an apartment block without impacting the comfort of its residents. To do so, the project maximizes the environmental performance of the building. It comes equiped with a water collection and reuse system, is constructed of low or non-toxic materials, and it incorporates smart building practices that require less resources for its construction and ongoing maintenance.

By far the most noticeable aspect of the project is its colorful facade. Inspired by the folds of paper in origami, the facade changes according to the needs of each individual apartment. When completely closed, the facade presents a solid white wall to the outside that is broken up by small irregular shapes. As the users within the units wish to have light shine into their residences, parts of the solid wall are open up to reveal an interior face and a splash of color that complements and changes the overall look and feel of the facade. This small design touch is not just for looks – this wall of the building acts as a passive system that naturally controls the temperature and ventilation of each unit.

Social housing and sustainable design are two concepts which are sadly seldom combined. The Ocho Casas complex proves that
affordable green housing can change our neighborhoods for the better, and we are glad to see inspired and beautifully executed projects such as this.

+ Romera y Ruiz Arquitectos

Via Noticias Arquitectura

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3 Comments

  1. niels November 27, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    too bad it’s just an interesting facade and not a fascinating space…

  2. Rai November 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

    From what I can see in the planes, this project is all about the façade, and only in a eye-candyish way. I cant really deduce what’s the point of the two triangular shapes (forming itself a rectangle) on the planes: from the inside, its marked “gre” as if it were nothing (maybe a heat isolation thing), but more importantly, from the outside, it is’nt even a balcony. Furthermore, the widow openings are SO small for the rooms facing the street, and tha’ts nearly criminal!

    If it wasn’t enough, the distribuiton of the flat rooms is quite traditional: a long corridor with rooms to the sides, a great way of losing square meters…

    Quite a pretentious building I have to say, even the façade is not-so-strong, looking at it all closed al white just hurts my eyes.

  3. Rai November 25, 2008 at 8:14 am

    From what I can see on the planes, that façade -and the building itself- it’s just eye-candy. I can’t really deduce what’s the point of the triangular shapes: on the planes from the inside, they apeear “grey” like there’s nothing in there, and from the outside, there isn’t even a handrail that permits using it as a balcony. Then, the windows on the façade are minimum compared to the room space, minimizing daylight, and all due to the not-so-beautiful façade. Completely clueless.

    It it wasn’t enough, the typical planning of de home distribuition, with a long corridor and rooms to the sides, that’s zero innovation and risk to take from the architects. That’s a pretty pretentious building, I have to say.

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