#39 May/June 2011

School, Torre Pacheco

Los Cachimanes school, Torre Pacheco (Photo: David Frutos)
enlarge
School

School

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.

 

Los Cachimanes school, Torre Pacheco (Photo: David Frutos)
Los Cachimanes school, Torre Pacheco (Photo: David Frutos)
Los Cachimanes school, Torre Pacheco (Photo: David Frutos)
enlarge

The buildings have a linear organization. The classrooms are arranged along one side of a corridor; on the other are the doors leading to the playground. In places this corridor bulges out from the main building to form porches that can be used as outdoor classrooms when the weather permits. Children can also play in these secluded areas during breaks or shelter there from the burning sun.

Although all the classrooms are situated next to one another, the same size and have the same relationship to the playground, they are not identical. They differ in section as the shape of the roof above each classroom space varies in inclination and contours (gable, inverse gable). These variations in roof shape, and the variety of shade they cast, contribute to the experience of an artificial landscape.

Inside, the gable roofs create an empty space, divided by a honeycomb concrete ceiling that is also used to support the roof. This empty space insulates the interior of the classrooms from the usually high temperatures outside – this region is one of the driest and hottest in Spain, and in summer the temperature can reach almost 50 degrees. The facades and the roofs are covered with a layer of artificial grass that gives the building its distinctive look. The school's green appearance injects a little softness into the rugged desert landscape of Roldan.

The Cachimanes project is an interesting example of how to design in a context that offers no positive qualities that the architects can adopt. This building just has to protect itself from the climate, the surrounding roads and the harsh environment. Huma Arquitectos found a way to create an attractive environment where children can learn and enjoy their school days, an experience that will have a positive effect on their later scholastic performance.

Los Cachimanes school, Torre Pacheco (Photo: David Frutos)
May | 2011 | Spain | Gonzalo Herrero Delicado + Maria José Marcos
#39 cover
#39 May/June 2011

#39 May/June 2011

Also in this issue

Also in this issue

TORRE PACHECO (ES) Huma Arquitectos have created an artificial oasis in the Spanish desert.   Three years ago,…
VIŠEGRAD (BA) Second prize winner MIT-arh will realize its competition design.   Višegrad, a provincial…
RIGA (LV) Dispersed among several historical and near-derelict buildings around Riga, the National Library…
Overview of contents
Subscribe to A10

Subscribe to A10

One year (6 issues) for only € 59.50

Subscription form
Share this article

Share this article

Map of Europe
Search

Search

A10.eu new European architecture