A Typology of Porosity to Realize Social Ideals
The model we developed in the Madrid Public Housing, located in the PAU of Carabanchel, provides a responsive alternative to conventional housing blocks. Instead of a rigid tower structure essentially owned by no one, we suggested that a rhythmic structure would better resonate with the patterns of a neighborhood. With various levels of social association, communication, and organization, the scheme is simple, respectful of traditional dwelling customs, and flexible enough to be updated and altered as needed or desired. Changing the typology of housing is a slow process; however, it is faster and more effective than changing an entire New Town configuration.
Breaking down the institutional nature of the public housing project, the basic parti is a low-rise J form in section, arranged in series of spaces to evoke a village. Loggias and green spaces for the domestically scaled massing afford community-oriented amenities, with private and public courtyards interacting through shared views. As a prototype for future development, the Madrid Public Housing project responds to a variety of surrounding scales, building types, and found conditions and, in so doing, might be applicable as a strategy for larger, more complex areas of development.
In a suburban Madrid neighborhood of conventional, anonymous housing blocks, we devised a typology of porosity to suit the social ideals of this project type. As an alternative to towering blocks of faceless units, this project explores a radically different social model that integrates landscape and village topologies. By grafting properties commonly found in detached villas onto this low-income housing project we achieved a multi-family living complex with amenities such as loggias, green spaces, and domestically scaled massing that are not normally found in public housing in Spain.
A layer of landscape overlaid upon a façade composed of a series of open spaces and idiosyncratic punctures combine to break down the institutional nature of the public housing project. The basic parti is an extruded “J”: a low-rise “village” building, flanked by a tall, slender bar to the North and a lower multi-level bar building to the South. Open spaces occur on three different scales: small, domestic patios inside the individual residential units, mid-sized public courtyards that punctuate the low residential structure, and the large, communal, landscaped space, the paseo. The landscaped lattice folds up vertically; like a carpet; plant growth covers the flat village and climbs up the taller buildings creating an idyllic refuge from the urban surroundings. The paseo, shaded by trees and a vegetation-covered trellis, takes the place of a conventional interior lobby.
This idyllic design brings open green space to a dense urban milieu. The idiosyncratic topology creates a community-oriented social fabric and challenges the prevalent urban social order.