Rising like a poplar forest from the banks of the Ebro river, Francisco "Patxi" Mangado's sustainably built Spanish Pavilion boasts a brilliant brise soleil composed of 750 ceramic pillars. This field of pillars shelters the interior spaces from the strong Spanish sun, while a pond at the building's base creates a temperate microclimate that is 3°C cooler than the surrounding area. Drawing upon these roots, the building blossoms with an impressive bouquet of green building strategies ranging from locally sourced sustainable materials to a rainwater recycling system and a massive photovoltaic array set at the pavilion's peak. We recently had a chance check out this incredible building during Tile of Spain's Reign in Spain tour - read on for an exclusive look inside!
Mangado‘s Spanish Pavilion was originally constructed for the 2008 Zaragoza World Expo, which drew architects from around the globe to build incredible feats of forward-thinking architecture focused around the themes of water and sustainable development.
The pavilion’s most striking feature is its staggered ceramic brise soleil composed of specially designed Decorativa tiles, which shield the building’s glass façade from the intense Spanish sun. The form and function of these pillars was inspired by the historic use of ceramics in the surrounding Aragon region.
There is not much wood available for building in the area, and not much local stone other than alabaster, which is too soft to use as a building material – as a result, many of the structures in the surrounding city of Zaragoza are built from bricks, and some of the city’s oldest examples of Mudéjar architecture prominently feature ceramic tiles. Mangado‘s choice to showcase this material makes a lot of sense, as ceramics are durable, locally sourced building materials that do not deteriorate or change color when exposed to sunlight.
The Spanish Pavilion offers 8,000 square meters of space, and its interior is outfitted with a wide array of green features – including cork ceilings and low-energy lighting. The building’s roof features a system of drains that recycle rainwater in addition to solar thermal panels and a massive photovoltaic array that capitalizes on the region’s abundance of sunlight. A smart energy management system keeps track of the building’s temperature as well as its electricity and water consumption.
The 2008 Zaragoza Expo was a tremendous success as hundreds of pavilions, parades, and events drew thousands of visitors each day. Each of the expo’s pavilions was designed to be purchased and reused after the expo, however the economic crisis hit Spain hard and the country’s unemployment rate has risen from 5% to 20% over the past few years. As a result, many of the pavilions currently stand empty and are in various states of renovation – a postmodern ghost town with an uncertain future. Fortunately, Mangado’s Spanish Pavilion has a brighter future than some of the other blighted structures – it is currently being renovated to house Spain’s National Renewable Energy Center (CENER).
All photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat