Community Center in Ames, Spain

The building is imagined as a sequence of flexible spaces connected through small interior courtyards of singular geometry. A central spine gives access to those spaces. The goal is to create a uniquely attractive atmosphere on the interior; a space that anyone can recognize as different, one featuring a constant if nuanced presence of natural light, with the exterior landscape introduced inside in the form of vegetation, textures, and carefully calibrated perceptual relationships. The disposition of courtyards generates a series of compelling visual connections across the building, both diagonal and frontal. That way users become distant participants of any activity taking place elsewhere in the building at any given moment in time. In addition, the courtyards are accessible, thereby providing recess spaces associated to the various uses. For privacy, curtains are proposed which enable the visual independence of each of the rooms while fueling a phenomenology of visual layering on the interior.

Although each of the spaces is assigned one specific use, we foresee that any number of these could be held in a different space. Perhaps even, from the outset, the managers could decide to use the building in a manner other than proposed. In other words, the building should be understood as a re-programmable infrastructure, not only in terms of each of the individual spaces, but also concerning the building as a whole, which could change programs in the future. On the other hand, in order to maximize the combinatorial possibilities of the spatial matrix giving rise to the various rooms, the interior enclosures of nearly all of them can be completely swung open. Thus, some of the spaces could be integrated into the central spine, or two rooms opposite each other could become one single space. Owing to this strategy, multiple combinations become possible on the interior.

In spite of the apparent complexity, the geometry of the building is entirely modulated, which significantly lowers construction costs. At the same time, however, each space features a marked atmospheric and positional differentiation, while a clearly distinctive image for the proposal is accomplished. Modularity and singularity; differentiation and repetition. The bent ribbons making up the external envelope are envisioned in Galician granite; a continuity of planes linking up the vertical walls to the sloping roof surfaces.


Location: Ames, Spain

Type: Community Center

Scale: 660 m2 (7,104 SF)

Status: Open Competition, 2020

Lead Team: José Aragüez, Lihan Jin

Consultants: Miguel Ángel Ramos (building engineer), Daniel Galindo (structure), Gonzalo Carretero (MEP), José Javier Martín (sustainability/energy)