Larrea‘s design seems to capture all the qualities we like to see in sustainable building design. The shallow floor plate allows every unit to have access to the southern sun and northern cooling breezes; a double wall system is well screened to protect from the hot Spanish sun in summer; and when the screens open up, they create a canopy. Most of the building’s resulting radiant heat is blocked in the small walkout that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. In the winter, the glassed-shelled porches capture heat and circulate it through the apartment via ductwork in the ceiling.
The entire building is ventilated by a central preconditioning air tunnel that is fed by towers on the north side landscape. In the summer, the cooler air feeds the supply ducts, providing tempered fresh air directly into the apartments so they do not have to open their windows. Over the winter, the tubes collect air which is warmed by the earth and channeled through a heating coil. The coil is supplied with hot water by either the condensing boiler or the solar thermal system that also supplies hot water. Air heated by the daytime sun in the double wall is circulated through the entire interior as well.
The tucked away parking helps keep the ground open for plants and people, and the building’s large openings provide a design marquee and communal areas that manage to aesthetically break mass of the structure.
Photographs © Angel Baltanás