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CLOUD AND MOUNTAIN. Ideas for a building in symbiosis Competition for the Madrid new “Campus of Justice”[1]. Access and services building.1 ABSTRACT: Natural species are grouped into ecosystems in order to perform their vital processes, allowing them to defend themselves against environmental changes. We think the building as ecosystem should decentralize its main supplies and processes in specialized situations of adjacency that seek for reciprocal benefits and minimize resources. Taking into account these symbiotic relationships between the constituent parts of the building we can address seasonal / daily reversibility more effectively. Keywords: ecosystem, symbiotic, adjacency, benefits, passive conditioning.

1. INTRODUCTION The competition regulations laid out a more or less compact building with very complex programmatic implications. In the other hand, the master plan of the area required a mandatory outer facade necessarily inscribed into an 88m diameter circle.

The proposed programme conditions were primarily analyzed regarding dimension, accessibility, affluence and natural lighting requirements. Some adjacency conditions were later agreed, in a way that the building, initially structured into three programme categories (administrative, leisure and commercial) would later be set into two main bodies regarding position: 1. 2.

A standing volume, stressing accessibility for commercial and leisure programme A lift up volume, stressing natural lighting for administrative programme

This characterization (carpet and canopy) relies mainly in the position along the vertical axis, as Margalef points out: “every ecosystem tends to develop its internal cycling by following a vertical axis defined by light and gravity. Horizontal transport, dependent on external energy, can be considered a disturbance…. [2].” Instead of the fragmented but compact building implicit in the regulations we proposed two twin micro-buildings in situation of extreme adjacency. This decision regarding the programme will later imply and provoke a series of symbiotic relationships implying many other aspects: structural frame, air conditioning, water management and natural lighting.

Figure 1: genesis of the proposal starting from the given layout.

PLEA2011 - 27th International conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 13-15 July 2011


Figure 2: axonometric cut view of the proposal showing the collaborative nature of enclosures.

Taking into account these reciprocal benefits between the constituent parts of the building we can address seasonal or day-night reversibility more effectively. 2.2. Structure Strategy: The weight of a building is a reliable criteria to calculate its environmental impact [3]. We can lower it significantly while keeping certain mass inertia if we differentiate the 2 micro-buildings as independent systems. Two structural concepts and materials coexist intimately within the site: 1.

Topographic bulk: stacked concrete slabs in contact with the ground will contain the most accessible parts of the programme. The system will have an organic -radial geometry and will serve besides as unbending foudation for the


Hanging bulk: raised up on a cage of steel trusses, the structure rests on just two points on top of the concrete bulk. Arranged in a rectangular network of trusses 8x8 meters it has a continuous envelope perforated by 5 lighting and ventilation patios.

2.1. Enclosure performance The proposal defines an environment between two micro buildings: a canopy (capturing storm water) and a “green carpet” (to store and diffuse it). In order to perform a sustainable drainage system, each one of the mentioned micro buildings has an opposed and collaborating enclosure concept:


An extensive collector surface in the plinth/MOUNTAIN, working together with a series of spread tanks-accumulators that gradually diffuse the rain water by means of gravity, so control the overall process of moisture and irrigation. The system ends up with a pumping reservoir that collects the exceeding water from the perimeter and roof draining circuit.


A hanging diffusing surface for the CLOUD, plugged into the reservoir, from which the water is discharged to the courtyards by means of a pumping column with a system of nebulizers for evo-transpiration. The exceeding water will be collected again and so on.

The plinth pavement works as a carpet with a gradient layout, increasing density and hardness of material with the decrease of elevation.

In the other hand, the raised volume works as a canopy, performing a natural control of sun lighting by means of a mesh structure whose geometry is based on solar radiation. The resulting fabric has a regular densimetry N-S oriented, opposite to the one defined in the base.



Figure 3: axonometric view of the proposal showing structure and cladding materials

PLEA2011 - 27th International conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 13-15 July 2011

Figure 4: main section of the proposal showing the different nature of structure, enclosure and programme.

 2.3. Water management

In this context, the lower building is conceived as a sloping accident included in the existing topography, creating a public space protected from sun or rain by means of a rising shelter.

The basic principle for the building and the environment is decentralized retention. We propose a semi-natural drainage system of artificial recharge to minimize the effects on the natural balance of the status quo. This system will combine infiltration through drainage cells, decentralized retention and discharge restricted within the area. This network combines surface and underground components. 1.





The plinth/MOUNTAIN is entirely wrapped by a layer of drainage cells, containing a vertical garden system which helps for moisture retention. The permeability of this wrapping is graded based on the distance to collector channels. A grip irrigation system is installed in the top row of the surface for dry season. The reminder of the system works either with rainwater or grip irrigation by means of gravity from the top to the ground, , where a perimeter drain ditch and a system of tank-accumulators efficiently drain excess water while retaining an optimum moisture level [5]. The system ends up in a pumping reservoir that collects the exceeding water from the perimeter greenways and draining circuit. In summer water is discharged through a pumping column to a system of nebulizers located in the upper perimeter of the 6 patios in the CLOUD. In winter the drain ditch is capable of gradually release excess water into parks and greenways and the cycle will start over again.

3. URBAN AND LANDSCAPE CONTEXTS The Campus master plan is a common garden and also a microclimate (half artificial, half natural) for a few buildings that will be designed by different architects, with a few general restrictions for the set as their position, main services and the circular layout of the plan. The density of land use is high. The circles permit punctual tangents denying the typical alignment of the building with the street, while achieving a better environmental continuity for the garden.


4. CONCLUSION After the 2nd WW the possibility of total control of the environment lead to an absolute trust on technology. The weight of environmental responsibility was transferred from the enclosure solutions as the mur neutralisante to mechanicals. The technical elements were in some cases even put away outside the building, like the LIVING POD in 1965. New materials and technologies overcame the constraints of traditional architecture: cladding and roofing will no more be a mayor concern. But the energy crisis of 1973 forced to rethink this initial technological optimism. Nowadays the modern discourse on truth and efficiency has been replaced by figurative and illusory concerns. The machinist ideal turned to an abstract minimalism, where there are visual showoffs such as the total elimination of window frame from the plane of the facade in 1975 [8] or the later total dematerialization of the facade in 1988 [9]. Architecture is made both of matter and energy, and without energy there are no processes or transformations [4]. Architecture can be thought as an artefact continuously altered by use and circumstance, and in no way the discourse on form can be addressed separated from that of energy, because they are intimate partners of the same matter. Minimal design lately tends to relay sustainable responsibility on construction detailing. But morphology of buildings should accommodate inner processes and should be performed as an

PLEA2011 - 27th International conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 13-15 July 2011

energetic organization that stabilizes and maintains these material forms.

The building, as von Bertalanffy wrote of the living cell “is not a static organization or a structure resembling a machine made of more or less permanent construction materials in which energetic materials provided by nutrition decompose to supply the energy needs of vital processes. It is rather a continuous process in which both construction materials and energetic substances decompose and regenerate [6]”.

5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Special thanks to Luis Fructuoso for his great capability during the entire procedure. Thanks to Paula Ferruz, Javier Casado and Iñigo Redondo, for the help and support received during the competition.

6. REFERENCES [1] The building of the paper refers to an entry for the Ideas Competition launched in February 2008 by the City of Madrid Municipality. [2] Margalef, R., 1986. La biosfera, entre la termodinamica y el juego. Barcelona: Editorial Omega. [3] Edwards, B. and Hyett, P., 2001. Rough guide to sustainability. London: RIBA Publishing. [4] Fernandez Galiano, L., 2000. Fire and memory: On architecture and Energy. London: MIT Press. [5] [6] Von Bertalanffy, L., 1968. General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications. New York: George Braziller [7] Banham, R., 1969. The architecture of the well tempered environment. London, Architectural press [8] Norman Foster 1975. Willis Faver and Dumas Head Office. Ipswich. [9] M. Pei 1988. Louvre Pyramid, Paris. He removes exterior silicone joints by means of structural silicone, which fixes the glass not for gripping but for pressure.

Figure 5: different geometries in both sides referred to the different levels of the building



cloud and mountain  
cloud and mountain  

Ideas for a building in symbiosis