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Design concepts for a Spanish research centre

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Competition

Delivered on behalf of Spain’s Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, this competition proposal centred around the design, build, and construction of a new building within a notable Spanish research centre.

With Spanish agency 3G office (part of the IDeA network) acting as our local partner on this project, the building – with a total area of ​​around 1,200 sqm – centres around a focal patio area, a common element of Spanish construction.

A basic element of passive architecture, the terrace allows for natural ventilation and heat regulation, as well as acting as a recreational space which creates socialising opportunities for the institution’s occupants.

Built around the central courtyard is a covered corridor which alternates between a partially-open passageway – exposed to the elements on one side – and a fully enclosed glass tunnel, the latter of which gives access to the interior spaces.

By creating a natural barrier to the prevailing north wind and a shade from the strong sun coming from the south and west, the building allows prolonged use of the outdoor space throughout the year. The south wing is also shaped to capture the long-distance views over the monumental city of Salamanca, which are visible from the common spaces and the ground floor patio.

The design of the structure – and its footprint within the available plot – protected an area of land which could be dedication to nature, and the cultivation of plants, vegetation, and crops. While the building itself carefully considered pedestrian access as well as the proximity to a nearby parking area.

The project also structured user access according to levels of privacy. With the ground floor dedicated to open areas of social exchange, the two upper floors – home to laboratories and private offices – was designed in a way to prevent unwanted access.

RBA was keen too to avoid the monotonous narrow corridors often associated with research laboratories – instead, the team designed multipurpose spaces which amplify the ‘living’ sounds of people within the building.

 

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