Social Housing In Sa Pobla

by | 15. Oct 2013

Feature | Residential
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View of the courtyard of the Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

By Pol Martin

The Social Housing complex designed by Ripoll Tizón Estudio de Arquitectura in Sa Pobla beautifully adjusts its modernity to fit the local popular architectural language and the existing urban form of the village.

This humble attitude and the awareness and recognition of the urban environment has resulted in a clear uplift for the small town of Mallorca. Despite working with a very modest architectural program such as social housing, the result is all-embracing. So much so that it was recently chosen as one of the twelve finalists for the FAD Prize 2013.

Traditional Mediterranean Public Space

In contrast to the iconic image of Mediterranean public life with city squares packed with frantic market dwellers, cafe goers spilling onto the cobbled streets and locals inhabitants occupied in passionate discussions on street side benches, there lies a more private traditional city form, common throughout the Mediterranean region.

Walking through the twisting streets, one is captured by the narrowing and tortured mix of past and present housing, like a maze you are drawn deeper into the town’s web. Streets often finish abruptly in cul-de-sacs or private courts, acting like filters that limit the visual scope of the unwelcomed eyes of potential intruders or curious strangers. Far from the open and social plazas, old urban design mechanisms prevent and secure the value of privacy and diversity of every home.

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Exterior view of Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

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View of the Sa Pobla Social Housing street facade. Photo: José Hevia

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View of the common spaces of Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia 


Privacy Space Filters

It’s in this filtering and the consequent diversity of spaces that architects Pep Ripoll and Juan Miguel Tizón began to work; first by simply observing the situation surrounding their plot. This ‘step back and observe’ perspective was one reason why the new project so naturally corresponds to the local area, an approach remarked upon by the FAD Award 2013 Jury:

To start drawing the new settlement for this plot considering the measurements of courts, warehouses and residential buildings around, has established a very good neighbouring relationship. It also has produced a very rich exterior space sequence passing gradually from the open public to the community areas and into the private space.
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General Plan. Drawing courtesy of Ripoll Tizón Estudio de Arquitectura

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Adjusting to the urban context. Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

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View of the common spaces of Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

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View of the common spaces of Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

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View of the common spaces of Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

   

Plot Configuration

Beside the values of diversity and surprise, architects Ripoll Tizón developed different standard housing types following the program. These would be later combined three-dimensionally following very logical and rational aggregation rules, but open enough to admit the diversity of situations that the response to the context required.

Far from occupying the whole plot in volume, the building mass sometimes backs out from its limits. Voids or courts are created making visible some of the walls that limit the plot with the neighbors. A central interior courtyard organizes the circulations and the rest of the common areas.

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View of the courtyard of the Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

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View of private courtyards at Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

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View of private courtyards at Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

   

Three-dimensional Housing Units

Thinking in a manner similar to developing prefabricated homes, the Estudio de Arquitectura Ripoll Tizón distinguished two types of living units which could then be combined in a number of manners. The first unit consists of the main living, dining, and kitchen areas. The unit can be located on a single level or distributed between two. The second unit forms the smaller bedroom, bathroom and storage areas.

The flexible combination of units brought a sense of diversity to the project, allowing for a wide range of results in terms of providing both, a diverse mix of smaller and larger flats, catering for different family sizes, and diverse but functional interior design. This form of living unit design also became an important tool when organizing the plot in relation to the immediate surroundings and the created exterior spaces. The model allowed the architects to diversify design without losing a level of standardization that social housing developments often require. Materials followed the Mallorca popular style, acting to unify the complex with the imminent surroundings.

 

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General Plan Model. Drawing courtesy of Ripoll Tizón Estudio de Arquitectura

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Distribution Plans. Drawing courtesy of Ripoll Tizón Estudio de Arquitectura

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Interior of one of the two level living-kitchen unit. Photo: José Hevia

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View of the common spaces of Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

    

Estudio de Arquitectura Ripoll Tizón

This residential building is the result of winning the ‘Idea Competition’ held in 2008 and so far the development has resulted in considerable recognition for the studio created by Pepe Ripoll and Juan Miguel Tizón. In addition to being a finalist in three competitions; the FAD Award, the XII Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism, and the Barbara Cappochin International Architecture Biennial, the social housing complex became first prize winner of the residential category  at the Arquitectura PLUS Awards 2013.

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Different views of standardization and diversity. Photo: José Hevia

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View of a facade detail of the Sa Pobla Social Housing. Photo: José Hevia

INFORMATION

CITY Mallorca
COUNTRY Spain
ARCHITECT Ripoll Tizón Estudio De Arquitectura

CLIENT

CONTRACTOR