Espai Verd, A Vegetal Urban Cathedral

Espai Verd
Antonio Cortés Ferrando
Valencia, España
39°29’06.8″N 0°21’13.2″W

The Espai Verd is a modular housing complex built in Valencia following a reflection combining vegetation and community. This example of bio-climatic architecture deals with many environmental issues in a hybrid building with a forest backbone spreading throughout the spaces.

Community life between the trees

The Espai Verd (Green Space) was born from a utopia among architects: creating a community in the city by making it live among the trees. In the north of Valencia, the dense urban center is replaced by peri-urban housing with theri garden and agricultural production areas. The idea was to make this building a link between these two different urban patterns. That is to say, a building that would be a formal association of houses allowing to categorize this transition between two neighborhoods. Thus, the architectural solution was to create a typology of housing with each 100m of private green spaces with common spaces designed with particular attention. The reflection on the combination of common and private spaces is built to encourage a communal lifestyle where nature is at the heart of social relations and daily life. The building was built as a compact city with a forest as its backbone. The omnipresence and abundance of vegetation makes it impossible to prioritize the common and private vegetated areas.

Typology and atmospheres

The Espai Verd was built between 1992 and 1994 in 4 phases thanks to a cooperative of owners who could finance the project. Each housing unit had to be able to guarantee 4 bedrooms for the inhabitants of the cooperative in addition to its generous exterior space. The solution to guarantee the same conditions to all the dwellings in this urban oasis is of course typological. Very inspired by Habitat 67 at the World’s Fair held in Montreal, Antonio Cortés Ferrando uses a 6x6m concrete grid to design the typologies. The urban vegetable cathedral juxtaposes 108 dwellings distributed in a staggered way according to the optimal direct sunlight. For example the building swivels 45° from the urban grid to capture as much sunlight as possible, it also has only 5 floors in the south and 15 floors in the north. One more technological challenge was the distribution of the loads of the exterior spaces. In fact, the weight of the earth, roots and trees could only be distributed thanks to an ingenious concrete structure.

A green and concrete oasis

In the center of the building a forest was created, a 4-storey high pine mountain was also built from the excavated earth of the parking lots. This vegetal atmosphere in the heart of the building creates a microclimate that has generated a new ornythological fauna, unique to this building. This has been included in the process of the vertical and natural ventilation of the dwellings. In addition to this direct contact with nature, the proximity of an agricultural farm encourages a responsible and environmentally conscious consumption.
This vegetal organization has allowed the creation of a community whose social relations are articulated around vegetalized spaces. The reflection on the views and the relationship to the landscape, the integration in the city, the development of a responsible lifestyle, the construction of natural solutions to atmospheric problems make the Espai Verd a unique manifest artefact and a strong example of architecture combining brutalism and environment.

Espai Verd Valencia
Espai Verd Valencia
Espai Verd Valencia
Espai Verd Valencia
Espai Verd Valencia Seccion Section
Espai Verd Valencia Plan
Photo Credit: Ardor
Source: Brutalment Valenciá, Jot Down, Revista AD

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