“A connecting point, a meeting point”
>> AIM OF THE RESEARCH IN ARCHITECTURE :
We are interested in investigating the formation of a physical space which, devoted to virtual connexions and information, becomes a real ‘meeting point’. We want to propose through architecture the merging of ‘sites’ for both virtual and material social networks.
Information Technology has re-configured the social relations of human beings. Information has opened up communication spaces, and has given depth and quality to our limited daily time.
Which meeting places of these intangible spaces can be designed from the tangible production of architecture?
Spaces that might be considered part of the “future”, are already common places in the present. We enjoy and share these in our homes and workplaces, where we spend our leisure and free times. These are spaces that re-invent the relationship between collective and private spaces, formation and information, communication and dialogue.
Only on few occasions has architecture proposed a setting in which information and space can interact. Sometimes attention to new information technologies has wandered between metaphoric formal exercises and pixelized communication prosthesis. The superimposition of matter and technology to incorporate these flows has created a complexity in buildings that sclerosises it. This generates an unavoidable obsolescence that underlines it contemporary condition.
This is the reason why our research is centered around architecture as the medium for multitude programmes, functions and timings: that means, being a programmable ‘hardware’. We are investigating how to propose a ‘pluripotential’ (or multipotential) space, where the flows of users and visitors may enter and where citizens may interact among others. That is architecture that holds active social ‘software’.
We propose to do less architecture to allow more ‘gathering events’ to happen: a principle of basic ecology that makes integral sustainability possible as a constructive, economical and social objective.
All social centres are more than a just a place, they are a process where new neighbourhood forms are articulated with ‘agents’ and ‘places’ that are nearby but also with others that are geographic and culturally more remote.
The new Social Cyber Centre Macarena Tres Huertas is a place where such categories as collective/intimate and informational/educative spaces will be re-defined.
We think in such places ‘presence’ (citizenry) is more important than ‘permanency’ (buildings), where architecture, in this world of networks and meeting places, is a phenomena in transit. That is why the building is carefully set in its surroundings, put to the residents’ disposition.
>> DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT.
The Social Cyber Centre Macarena Tres Huertas competition was organized within the process’ frame by administrative decentralization and progressive establishment of the so called ‘tele-administration’. Off which the city government (EMVISESA) firmly aims to make available its advantages to all citizens. This implicitly demanded a new spatial medium to provide the local inhabitants with the necessary equipment for computing and information technologies.
Chance, necessity and environmental adaptation.
Almost as it happened with Darwing’s evolution theory, chance and necessity converged (the demands of City Government and our research) interceded by local determinations: the surrounding characteristics and the restrained economic conditions.
The district Macarena Tres Huertas is characterized by its high density (eight-floor buildings) dwellings blocks supported by pilotis that leave open spaces on the ground floor. This allows for visual transparency and free circulation among the gardens, thus avoiding its perception as an opaque and stagnant space.
Therefore the new ‘Macarena Social – CyberCentre’ sits in this place, generating visual and physical movement in order to optimize the accessibility to the surroundings paths and open areas.
The ground floor is freed from the programme in order to create a wi-fi plaza below the building. A small access garden, which together with a porch linked to a cafeteria and a multipurpose room, are offered as a neighbourhood wi-fi meeting and leisure room. Over these spaces, arises a volume lined with red lacquered sheets, where computer labs, workshops and offices are placed.
>> N-POTENTIAL PUBLIC SPACE:
The main idea is to raise to the power of three the former free spaces now occupied by the building by means of multiplying n-times the tangible spaces: garden-wi-fi plaza, multipurpose and connected spaces on the 1st floor and the flat roof, which is offered to the neighbours as a terrace to hold events and as river viewing point.
>> PROGAMABLE BUILDING
The new ‘Macarena Social – CyberCentre’ is designed as a programmable setting, where functional definition will depend on the timing of its uses and the users participation with the given spaces. Only by thinking in these terms, has a functional determination been avoided, that could damage the survival and natural evolution of these spaces.
The requirements that were initially demanded (administration, services and installations) have been raised up and compacted into a nucleus on the first floor. This allows the rest of the space to be free with flexible rooms equipped with computer connections. On the ground floor, the garden and the porch leads us to the entrance, a multipurpose room and a small cafeteria, in a close relation with the wi-fi plaza. Above it all, the terrace is offered as a motivation for activities and celebrations.
The new building offers a simple but straightforward image.
Its materials are sincere, so it has a very important significance: red-lacked, fold up steel sheet over thermal insulation and brick wall, leaving a ventilated area for climate control. The steel sheet has different perforation densities that allow different levels of privacy and security. A range of intimacy is achieved by managing the ‘gills’ over the windows (vertical lama or banderols that make the building breath), these are orientated to free spaces, preserving the windows and views to the dwellings’ privacy.
The building itself is a statement on sustainability in terms of standardised construction, organized by structural units and a standard module, made by a serial production process. This as well as controlled transport and executing time benefits the energy and emission control. The building follows passive construction on order to rationally deal with the extreme weather of Seville: making the most of thick isolation, natural ventilation and natural lightning.
Socially the – CyberCentre ‘Macarena Tres Huertas’ is a site where traditional categories meet and are re-defined: an advanced technological site, environmentally conscious, urbanely responsible and socially active.