We started from the idea of recovering a typology which has barely been tried out in Barcelona: the “Mediterranean” block of Antonio Bonet, a hybrid which seeks not so much to break the rules of Cerdá as to explore the potential of untested zoning regulations, allowing accidents to be harmonized as habitual components.
Photos: José Hevia
The design widens the sidewalks and moves the pedestrian farther from the traffic. The 20-meter width of the Calle de Londres is extended, and the street is connected visually and physically with a park in the interior of the block. Construction is segmented into narrow, parallel volumes, scaled from north to south, to ensure sunlight in both the dwellings and the children’s classrooms. As a result, the compactness and ventilation patios typical of the Ensanche was avoided, and the two programs (housing and school) coexist and enter into dialogue, creating new visual relations and transversal connections.
The project seeks to redefine the entrances, circulations, and open spaces as places for interrelation and interchange. With its portico 7.5 meters deep, the housing block has 45 apartments of 45 m2, with crossventilation and plenty of natural light, thanks to their shallow depth.
The challenge was to design a new type of compact dwelling, not based on conventional typologies of public housing in Spain. The minimum unit of 22 can be expanded, combined, or added to. The units are interchangeable and polyvalent: some are on the same level and others one on top of another, so that the user can define the spaces in accordance with individual needs.
The entrances have been redefined by the southern pedestrian walkway, with its two meters of separation from the façade, thus avoiding direct interference with the dwellings and allowing access by bicycle. It also functions as a brise-soleil. Access to the apartments is by way of a balcony-footbridge, a sort of suspended patio.
The project is a piling up of single-family dwellings. The open spaces, the expandable units, the glazed façade, the good ventilation, the sunlight, the views, and a disproportionately large exterior space are inspired by the need to introduce what Peter Smithson called “the small pleasures of life.”
Coll-Leclerc Arquitectos was founded in 1993 by Jaime Coll López and Judith Leclerc. In 1996 the firm moved to Barcelona.
Jaime Coll López (Palma de Mallorca, 1964) graduated as an architect from the ETSA in Barcelona in 1989, earning a doctorate from the same institution in 1994. He was granted a Fulbright Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Columbia University (1994–1996). Since 1997 he has been a professor in the Design Department of the ETSAB.
Judith Leclerc (Montreal, 1967) graduated as an architect from McGill University in 1992, and earned a Master’s degree from the ETSAB in 2002. She teaches at the UPC in Barcelona.