TORRE PACHECO (ES) - Huma Arquitectos have created an artificial oasis in the Spanish desert.
Three years ago, Alberto Amorós Martínez and Jose Amorós Martínez, partners in the firm Huma, won first prize in a competition to build a public school in Torre Pacheco, a town in south-eastern Spain. The Torre Pacheco local council wanted to build the school in the Roldan district, in order to reactivate this outlying area, and also because there was as yet no school in Roldan. Children had to travel every day to the closest district school, about five kilometres away.
The project is the first realized building in a new urban development called Los Cachimanes, which will link this site to the closest residential area of Roldan. In response to the desert that surrounds the plot, the architects decided to create a green building, an artificial oasis. The large plot provided an excellent opportunity for the architects to design a single-storey school. The building hugs the perimeter of the plot, leaving the centre empty for the playground. In this way the building works as a frontier between the street and the playground, creating a 'green habitat' inside for the children. The perimeter volume is cut into two parts; the longer one contains preschool classrooms, washrooms and the staff room. The shorter section contains the primary school and general spaces such as the cafeteria, dining hall, assembly hall, changing rooms and washrooms.
A variety of paving materials creates a transition between outside and inside, private and public space. The first area of paving is the public sidewalk, which is covered with red paving stones and separated from the school property by an aluminium fence made of vertical sections. Inside the fence, there are areas of sand between the perimeter and the concrete surface of the playground. This surface and the floors and walls of the school are painted with a profusion of colourful instructions to guide people to the different areas of the school.