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!
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.
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.