This newly completed public facility in Madrid is an inspired design that seeks to familiarize the next generation with the principles of green design. Behind the yellow façade is a highly efficient building that keeps material use to a minimum and plays multiple roles within the community. Architecture firm Ecosistema Urbano highlights how powerful sustainable design can provide comfort, space and light while reducing energy use. Dubbed an “open environmental classroom” the Plaza Ecopolis is powerful statement of sustainability that uses 35% less material than typical projects of its size.
The building serves as a childcare center, a recreation center, and an open air plaza that uses layers of materials to create a unique environment. Energy savings was one of the major considerations in the project’s design. The layers of structures begin with the exterior canopy, which is stretched along a steel skeleton.
The canopy lets light in but blocks the intense sun. Below the canopy a bank of south-facing glass windows runs along the long axis of the building. Part of the canopy rolls up during cooler times of the year to provide direct sun. A concrete core contains the interior spaces, allowing light to penetrate through a series of clever light shafts (such as the staircase). Circular light tubes on the roof add extra whimsy to the already playful design. The lower floor also receives light and air from a subterranean courtyard.
One of the building’s levels is partially submerged to manage scale and improve energy conservation. Careful energy modeling helped dictate the placement of the various design elements to maximize performance.
The grounds are just as important to the environmental design. Not only do hills encourage climbing, rolling, and sliding — the resulting valley hosts a critical water feature. Macrophyte plants placed in a manmade wetlands absorb and treats wastewater from the building. The water is then used for irrigation of the surrounding landscape. A gravel bank rings the wetlands and holds the purified water until it is needed. By closing the water loop the facility teaches children about resource conservation while dramatically saving on water and the energy it takes to process this valuable resource.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Green design in public spaces allows citizens to experience directly how good design works. Plaza Ecopolis was designed from the start to be a resource of awareness, and the educational function of the building is flexed to its fullest through an engaging design.
Via Arch Daily
Photos © Emilio P. Doiztua