The improvement of the Besòs River crossing from Barcelona in the 1960s and the construction of the walls at the riverbed began a very important transformation process in the municipality of Santa Coloma de Gramenet. This urbanization of the riverbank consolidated a built front to the main road, giving its back to the river and acting as an intermediate space between the existing neighbourhoods.
The building is the second in a project of three housing blocks. The global transformation project tries to achieve the following objectives:
- Ensure the opening of the city to the river, creating visual continuities by generating new public spaces. A new central square improves permeability between the river and the city. - Solve the dual scale of the site, making compatible the new river front with the integration of the buildings in the existing urban fabric. - Make possible that all new dwelling have optimal conditions of sunlight and views.
This second building is situated to the West and is the nearest building to the river of all three. It is organized into four staircases with four flats per landing. Three of these staircases have a height of ground floor plus five stories on the Avinguda de la Generalitat, while the fourth one has a higher height of fourteen and sixteen stories. With the articulation of the plan and its different heights, the building tries to assume a double condition, simultaneously establishing relations with the Besòs River and the small existing buildings.
The building has been designed with a relatively large depth of 17.60 meters and is organized in three structural bays. The central one is reserved to services and communication hubs which are orientated to covered and ventilated patios. This organization allows certain uniformity in the exterior façade, where face all the bedrooms and living rooms.
The will that exterior spaces do not appear as single outgoing volumes make us think about a thickness façade, which is seen as a 'living space' with different uses and functions. The façades set a filter between the interior and exterior and provide efficient storage space. Protected outdoor spaces are generated in three different dimensions, depending on room type and orientation.
The materiality of the façade has a double meaning. One is defined with a coloured panel that gives the building a compositional rhythm. The other is the brick wall, which always slopes to the South and gives a directional sense to the whole.