*Special thanks to Jonathan for hosting and showing me around in Madrid!
When I were traveling in Madrid, my host Jonathan showed me to the Carabanchel district, which was a great and inspiring architectural excursion.
You can hardly find anything beside residential buildings in Carabanchel. But surprisingly many internationally awarded buildings are living in here silently. A walk in Carabanchel is like a lecture on “Future Housing Design”. The rise of these modern residential buildings were originally targeting the low-income-group in Madrid. In order to minimize the construction cost, appropriate dwellings were fitted well onto the land in order to maximize the land use, with a good control to reserve public space and beautiful scenery to each flat. Cheap building material are chosen; although the buildings looks colourful, they are actually made with metal plates and meshes. The use of industrial material brings a sense of modern to the buildings. We seldom see such colorful building in Germany because there are regulations on the facade colour. I like these sharp and colorful buildings; they are ugly but they symbolize freedom. Although all buildings look like boxes, they all provided excellent spatial experience. For example the Carabanchel Housing by FOA, in order to let the residents enjoy both the sceneries on east and west, the dwellings’ plans are designed like long tubes; those in the corners are designed like L-shaped.
I1：Carabanchel Housing spatial diagrams (Photo Credit : ArchDaily)
I2：Carabanchel Housing floor plans，the flats are definitely too big in the eyes of Hong Kong’s developers. Long tube module are always challenging in term of the interior layout. Although it may not be the most efficient spatial arrangement, i imagine it will be very nice to have a long corridor at home to put my drawings. Photo credits : Foreign Office Architects
The use of Bamboo on facade makes FOA’s Carabanchel Housing stands out from all buildings of the district, giving people a sense of artificial nature, which is totally different from all other concrete buildings. “Excuse me, do you know is there a bamboo architecture nearby?”, “Bamboo…aiya yes! Go straight, the third street, on your right hand side.” That is how we got to there.
I3：Carabanchel Housing (Architect : Foreign Office Architects)，The facade is modular bamboo frame, the residents can change the open and close of the facade. This movement makes a continuos changes in the facade patterns.
I4：Bamboo Facade. Photo credits : Miguel Angel Sanchez, masphoto.es
The Social Building Carabanchel designed by Spanish architect Temperaturas Extremas Arquitectos SLP only provides you a small flat. However the spatial arrangement is tricky in a way that every flat can enjoy a private balcony. More surprise is when you look from the entrance it is a wide public park, it is absolutely a comfortable place to live.
I5：Social Housing Carabanchel (Right) (Architect : Temperaturas Extremas Arquitectos SLP), the facade color are chosen by the residents.
I6：Social Building Carabanchel. Photo credits : architizer
It was like a treasure hunting afternoon in Carabanchel. There are parks almost every three streets. Lookig into the families playing in the parks, the smiles on the elderly faces, isn’t these the things we are striving for? The architects scream under the concrete, residents have to move out their district because of gentrification. Look at those smiles, aren’t these the things we are striving for?
When we are shooting in the district, a police came. The residents found us very suspicious so they called the police. Jonathan explained the police our purposes of shooting, and the police asked Jonathan in from of 24 Social Housing ” Ha, you think this building is beautiful? I think it is ugly!”
I7：The colourful 24 Social Housing by the architects Rafael Cañizares Torquemada & Eduardo Valdillo Ruiz.
片1：Madrid studio Coco arquitectos’ works : 168 VPP en Carabanchel. It made me think of my 2nd year studio works.
Notes : obseving the “friendly” residents in the district, they seems having peaceful life. They doesn’t look like poor people at all. Later we figured out these award-winning architectures were already occupied by the rich people when the buildings were built. Yes, they love architecture.
Chinese Version : <<我們追求的…好建築>>