Gallery: Zaragoza’s Solar-Powered Spanish Pavilion is Shielded by a Cer...

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.

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).

+ Francisco “Patxi” Mangado

+ Tile of Spain

All photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat


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  1. amir Yarrow March 8, 2011 at 8:40 am

    too bad it never rains in Spain
    not even in the plains
    and how will they grow that lawn?
    negative water consamption
    how much energy that wonderful ceramic thing consumed?
    is that an algea plume or silted dam

  2. herman miller santa rosa February 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Love that the roof is recycling rainwater. Very intriguing building. trope group

  3. Amanda Eden February 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Caravel, might be the other way around. The Spanish Pavilion in Zaragoza was completed in early 2008.

  4. caravel February 28, 2011 at 8:34 am

    We don’t expect architects to reinvent the wheel but you might say that this was inspired by Carmody Groarke’s Regent’s Place Pavilion

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