Villaverde Social Housing

Villaverde Social Housing, Madrid - Spain, David Chipperfield Architects
Address: Calle del Berrocal | MADRID | Spain
Latitude/Longitude: 40.3428, -3.67593

Commissioned by the Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda (EMV), the social housing scheme is located on plot 203 of a new development in Verona, in the Villaverde district of southern Madrid. Comprised of 176 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, the scheme responds to an overall masterplan for the site which requested a single U-shaped block, 15m deep, and with a footprint of just over 2,000m2. Like other buildings within the same development, it also required that the block be eight stories high and have the appearance of a pitched roof. Within the confines of this brief, the design attempted to manipulate these architectural restrictions so as to abstract the common idea of an apartment block. So whereas other neighbouring buildings adopt a symmetrical, double-pitched silhouette, here the traditional relationships of wall and roof are abstracted into a low, single pitch for the bulk of the block, and a small secondary pitch bevelling the building’s front edge.

The increase in floor area achieved by this reduction in roof volume also allowed for a more sculptural approach to the building envelope-carving back the sides of the block, away from the orthogonal, to create a more varied outline to the building’s elevation.

Further distinguished by its choice of materials – earthy-pink concrete facade panels, a rich dark grey concrete for the courtyard portico, and a dense band of landscaping in between, the effect is a rich tricolour radiating outwards. Like the building’s overall form, the surface of the block also evolved from the desire to create both an hierarchical facade (with larger rooms expressing themselves on the outside with more widow openings) and one in which this fenestration does not repeat itself over the building’s eight floors (so that each window placement appears unique). As much, then, as a three-dimensional study into mass and form, the design of plot 203 represents a two-dimensional, almost mathematical, exercise in paterning.

⇒ Architecture Guide to MADRID