Residence For Architecture Students

by | 25. Oct 2013

Project | Residential

Exterior view. Photo: Adrià Goula

By Pol Martin

Joining forces HARQUITECTES and dataAE architects have designed this ecological residence for architecture students located next to the ETSAV (UPC) Architecture School of Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona. The building is an excellent example that ecological conscience, using prefabricated structures, and high architectural ambitions can go hand in hand. The project has been chosen as one of the twelve finalists for the FAD Prize 2013.

Defining the campus block

The Residence for Architecture Students – a student housing facility – in Sant Cugat is located in the south-west corner of the same block upon which the Vallès Architecture School (ETSAV) was built in 1991 by Lluís Nadal. Originally built within the ‘garden city’, for years the school’s white cubic building has awaited the further development of the UPC campus block and the city.

In 2006 the first low building running along the south facade of the school was carried out by Javier Garcia Solera, providing new headquarters for the university research centers. This low form parallel to the existing school doesn’t break any of the great views that the school has south, towards the Collserola Mountains and the existing pinewoods.

HARQUITECTES and dataAE designed the Residence for Architecture Students in Sant Cugat with the intention to establish a good balance between the existing buildings and the surrounding outdoor areas. Placing the building in the opposite corner of the block from the school building, the residence somehow clearly defines and concludes the pending distribution of the whole campus block. Also, it is placed parallel to the street and not to the school like the previous low extension. Despite the two level height of the residence, the natural slope of the site leaves the school views undisturbed.


South facade. Photo: Adrià Goula


South facade. Photo: Adrià Goula


General Plan. Drawing courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


General Section. Drawing courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE

Apartments for architecture students

The overall form of the student housing complex is made up of two main bars, laid out and separated by a central atrium or garden. This central space functions both as individual terraces and a common distribution spatial element. This terrace/corridor space has the potential use as a place for events and socializing. Harquitectes and dataAE came up with a program to enhance intense connections among inhabitants, both on an individual and group level. The interior flexibility of the apartments allow different cases where sharing is possible and comfortable. Xavier Ros from Harquitectes explains to arcspace:

Now, two years after the opening, the apartments have been occupied very differently by its inhabitants: most of them are architecture students… So the flexibility that we considered in our project has allowed the specificity of each individual in their distributions.

View of an apartment interior. Photo: Adrià Goula


View of an apartment interior. Photo: Adrià Goula

Assembling prefab concrete units

Based on industrialized construction, the project is assembled using just one housing module type made of pre-formed concrete without partition walls. Each one of these units includes all the necessary fixed elements, simplifying the execution of finishing and installations.  Most components of the project are installed and assembled by dry-build systems so every module and its contents can be dismantled and reused or is highly recyclable.


Plan and section of the housing unit. Drawing courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


View of the model. Photo courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


View of the model. Photo courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


Cross section and temperature regulation. Drawing courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


Ground floor plan. Drawing courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


First floor plan. Drawing courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


Cross section. Drawing courtesy of HARQUITECTES + dataAE


Both HARQUITECTES and dataAE are really good examples of up and coming young studios in Spain joining forces to collaborate on innovative projects like The Residence for Architecture Students in Sant Cugat. In early 2014 the pair expect to finish their second building together: the ICTA-ICP Research Center.

Xavi Ros from HARQUITECTES points out with satisfaction how “this upcoming building is the first result to the date, of a very close and intense collaboration between two studios with points of view quite alike.”

The Residence for Architecture Students in Sant Cugat has to date been awarded a fair amount of first prizes; the 2013 Arquitectura Plus Sustainable Award, the Green Building CE Award, the NAN 2012 Award, the AJAC 2012 Award and the the SAIE 2011 Concrete Award. The project has been also selected for the Green Building Challenge 2011 (Finland) and recently became a finalist for the FAD Prize 2013 and the Spanish Bienal 2013.


View of the central terraces. Photo: Adrià Goula


View of the central garden. Photo: Adrià Goula


View of the central garden. Photo: Adrià Goula


DSM Arquitectes