Housing: 242 Social Housing Units, Vitoria-Gasteiz by ACXT

A residential unit, simple in volume, composed of a 21storey-high tower and a U-shaped block with a varying height, faceted, entirely in red implanted in a site along with more regular collection of blocks of apartments in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the north of Spain. Designed by ACXT, this 242 Social Housing Units is in rupture with the monotony of Spain's housing typology, at least its surroundings, first by its color, a bold red, then by an interest in details. The housing block has a double orientation South West. It consists of two basement floors occupying entirely the plot. Their function is to house the garage, the box-rooms and technical rooms. The rest of the surface is dedicated to council housing, the architects say.
242 Social Housing Units © ACXT. Photo © Artio Ortiz.
Originally appeared on Arhitectural.

First, the envelope of this 242 Social Housing Units explores a tonal affect by using of a bold red creating a differentiation with its surrounding.
As Iñaki Garai Zabala, project director, says,
The building with its red colour, intends to express optimism, confidence and commitment with the future in a mainly grey social and architectonic frame.
The various views of this residential complex show a strong distinction between the building and surrounded buildings, all wrapped in a greyish monotone color.
Plan © ACXT.
Originally appeared on Arhitectural.

Second its spatial and organizational transformation.
Plan © ACXT.
Originally appeared on Arhitectural.

In my view, the building does not break with its surrounding… at least at first glance: a faceted tower quite similar in form with the surrounded block of apartments continued by a U-shaped less high block treated in the same color.
242 Social Housing Units © ACXT. Photo © Aitor Ortiz.
Originally appeared on Arthitectural.
> Note the distribution of the repetitive fenestration patterns strictly aligned horizontally and vertically on the surface of the envelope generating a fluid surface.
One specificity of the many details that differentiate the building from its surrounding is the window patterns again. But, whilst repeated in their distribution, the window patterns of the red housing block differ in form with those of the other buildings.

However, if one pays attention to each component of this building: its façade, its organization, its form — a tower with a continuous U-shaped block, as well as its interior spaces, the treatment of this block differs with the other buildings in many ways. The roof, for instance, is viewed as a "fifth façade" with a special treatment:
Plan © ACXT
Originally appeared on Arhitectural.

  • The organization of the building's grouped around the central axis of the complex;
  • These services then ventilated through a system of ventilation which aims to avoid the presence of typical rooftop chimney.
Plan © ACXT.
Originally appeared on Arhitectural.

The 21-storey-high tower is prolonged by an aforementioned continuous U-shaped block with varying height from four and seven floors. An organization of the prolonged block in U generating a private semi-open courtyard.
It is as if we were dealing with an open and free space, its centre occupied by a cluster of rooms with plumbing in them, all served by a single shaft, which is painted black, educationally showing how the building services work and, at the same time, offering a perception of a unique space crossed by light from one façade to another.
With this organization, the building offers maximum exposure to sunlight to the patio and the façades, ventilation, as well as best views to the surrounding as the building is double-oriented.
242 Social Housing Units © ACXT. Photo © Aitor Ortiz.
Originally appeared on Arthitectural.
> The color of the building disturbs the overall homogeneity of the neighborghood.

The courtyard can be viewed as a continuous surface of the urban space, interconnecting interior and exterior, privacy and public space.
242 Social Housing Units © ACXT. Photo © Aitor Ortiz.
Originally appeared on Arthitectural.
> The organization in U generates a semi-closed courtyard, a continuous space that links the housing unit to the urban space.

In my view, this 242 Social Housing Units is an exercise of re-appropriation of a site dedicated to housing within strictly building laws, first, and the housing typology that proposes ACXT with this colorful residential unit. A residential unit that redynamizes the neighborhood, creating a differentiated affect.
242 Social Housing Unit © ACXT. Photo © Aito Ortiz.
Originally appeared on Arthitectural.
> As said, the volumetric treatment of this housing block is quite similar to that of the others.
The colorful envelope aside, the architects stresses treatment of the roof as a 'façade' generating a continuous
surface with a ramp that leads to the tower. This organization creates a variation of the visual depth of the building.

Another particularity concerns the sustainable part of this housing block. The building guarantees energy saving, according to the architects, thanks to a 'cogeneration system' in addition with the conventional thermal production of a central heating boiler with individual management.
Section © ACXT.
Originaly appeared on Arhitectural.

Thus covers part of the hot water and heating needs of the building whilst producing electricity to sell. The cogeneration unit consumes natural gas to generate 70 Kw of electricity and 109 Kw of thermal power in the same process, by making the most of the heat generated during the cooling of the motor and exhaust fumes.
Economy of common areas facilitates, as said above, a double orientation, and maximum of views.
242 Social Housing Units © ACXT. Photo © Aito Ortiz.
Originally appeared on Arthitectural.
> Building laws in Spain are particular strict: precise setbacks, exact footprint, among many others. Here a part of the façade of the tower is positioned set back from the last eight upper floors and the roof. This organizational transformation allows for the creation of balconies strictly distributed on the surface of the façade.

In a consequence, this 242 Social Housing Units is sheathed in a continuous surface that provides all the needs for the dwellers: ventilation, sunlight exposure, best views within a neighborhood dominated by a similarity in terms of housing typology.
242 Social Housing Units © ACXT. Photo © Aitor Ortiz.
Originally appeared on Arthitectural.

Source: Arthitectural.

Building Fact
Project: 242 Social Housing Units in Salburua, Spain
Architects: ACXT
Project Director: Iñaki Garai Zabala
Client: VISESA Vivienda y Suelo de Euskadi S.A.
Assistants: Jose Marcos Cavallero, Ricardo Moutinho, Helena Sa Marques, Oscar Ferreira da Costa, Nuria Perez, Beatriz Pagaoga, Ines Lopez
Engineering: IDOM
Engineers: Francisco Jose Sanchez, Jon Landaburu, Unai Medina, Daniel Torres, Oscar Malo, Begoña Sanchez
Telecommunication: Aritz Muñoz, Ibai Ormaza
Cost: Juan Davila
Civil Engineer: FS Estructuras
Photographer: Aitor Ortiz
Infographic: ACXT
Geotechnical : Eptisa — Cinsa
Health and safety coordinator: Spril Norte
Area: 38,670 sq. m.
Budget: 18.160.000 euros
Year of completion: 2011

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