FUENLABRADA (ES) - This youth centre, designed by Mi5 arquitectos, is located inside the old town hall of Fuenlabrada, a city on the outskirts of Madrid. The architects faced two rather obvious difficulties in transforming the building. First of all, the area's cultural heritage status meant that there were strict rules regarding what could and could not be changed. Secondly, the building's internal layout, with numerous small office spaces, was not suitable for the envisioned activities.
The first step in the design process was to remove all internal walls, reducing the building to a three-storey shell, which the architects decided to leave more or less as it was. The new infill is mainly the new programme: the different, changing use of the space by the youth. The architects thought the rough, industrial-creative look of the stripped building provided just the right ambience and looked for a way to reinforce this identity. Their cheap and simple solution is a continuous loop of light that accompanies visitors and users through the three different floor levels. It is primarily this light line that gives the interior its distinctive character. The fluorescent light is reflected in the deep blue, polished resin floors, the PVC used for some internal walls and the white tiles on the outer walls. According to the architects, the spatial experience offered 'tries to reproduce the weightless feeling of being immersed in an environment of dynamic water reflections'. (Kirsten Hannema)