In a privileged place, at the end of a green meadow on the top of a hill and with the Avilés estuary on the horizon, two small metallic objects stand still upon a concrete basement and stare at the spectacle before their eyes. Dressed in a tailored suit which covers their head and torso, they protect themselves from the unpleasant rain and see the time going by.
As expressed in the previous paragraph, from the beginning of the project we considered the quality of the surroundings and wanted to treat the buildings as if they were almost “alive” and could express the sensations that the place provoked in ourselves.
The plot is situated at the edge of a steep slope and the urban regulations determined we should set up two blocks sharing a common basement, but each with a slightly different built area. This seemed to us interesting, so that we could design two pieces with the same language, almost identical but different at the same time.
The project idea is all about the covering, the skin, which folds to configure the building personality. In a city with a strong industrial character, we found steel very appropriate, as a tight sheet that gets torn to create windows and balconies, to open itself at the top to the surroundings through big windows that look, as eyes, at the meadows and estuary.
We designed an only and common access to both blocks just in the space between them, with the tension that provoke two things that are very close each other, and as a meeting place for the neighbours. The access level is slightly higher than the street and conceived as a semipublic square where people can stare at the landscape or talk sitting in the benches protected from the rain.
The flats are distributed quite uniformly through all levels. We tried to compact the intermediate floors to get as much free space as possible in the ground and higher floors. So, we get a bigger square in the ground floor with covered areas under the blocks and, in the highest floors, the two-storey houses allow to make the building less dense. Is there where the outer skin loses its opacity and steel becomes glass.
Each block has a staircase whose appearance from the exterior is minimized by using the same steel sheet, but perforated. During the day it looks as the rest of the façade but, at night, light comes out through the steel and its presence becomes more important.
The houses interiors have a simple distribution, with windows from the floor to the ceiling, proportioned to each room and which allow the sight of the landscape. In the living rooms these windows step outwards the façade line and become glassed balconies where you can sit and stare. The wet rooms and technical columns are located in a compact strip around the access corridor, while the living and bedrooms are put on the outer strip next to the façade. In the highest floors the space seems to expand as we get two-storey living rooms where you notice the continuity of façade and roof.
The buildings get anchored in the ground by a concrete basement which contains the parking and lumber rooms and forms the access platform. Upon it settles itself a light metallic skeleton that allows the façade flexibility. The perimeter pillars get reduced to fix into the outer wall and allow the free position of the inner partitions.
About the materials, we also chose simplicity. Steel sheet with a special sea-climate-proof coat, and outdoor Aquapanel for the side facades. The outside pavement is made of washed concrete while the perimeter fence is solved with a double simple-torsion galvanized net.
After all, we realized that our aim was to make things that could be useful for the users: an Access area with benches to sit and talk, big windows to enjoy the natural light, read comfortably, balconies to sit and stare at the landscape, a structure that allows the free spatial distribution…. That is, details that make architecture more friendly.