XVA is a Barcelona based design team operating in the fields of architecture, urbanism and research. The firm was founded in 2004 by Xavier Vilalta, Catalan-Spanish architect and associate professor of the Barcelona Technological University. Xavier Vilalta is the creative director of a talented team of architects and designers who coordinates the projects process and the different experts involved. XVA projects have been recognized by international awards such as the young architect of the year at the Leaf Awards 2008, and two consecutive awards, 2009 and 2010, the SAIE Selection of the energy exhibition of Bologna in Italy for the sustainability of their design.
DESIGN VISION â€œThis is the countryside of Catalonia where I was born, a place with a beautiful landscape of agricultural fields and fruit trees. I designed here one of my first projects, a small kindergarten, and when doing the project I thought about my memories of childhood in the middle of apple trees: a space that was fun, and with many good qualities of shadow and light so I started to think how I could build a space with the same atmosphere. The image of the leaves evolved to this abstract pattern and a construction system and it came out this space. This is a very special project for me, because during the design process I discovered what I wanted to do as an architect and especially why I design Architecture, and that is: to connect nature and people. â€œ Xavier Vilalta
WE LOVE NATURE
WE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE
ARRELETES DAY CARE CENTER
Els AlamĂşs, Spain
Photographer: Jordi Anguera
The project creates two volumes: one at the bottom, the classrooms for children and the courtyard, supported by the existing agricultural wall and following the direction of agricultural fields, and the other one above, the teachersâ€™ offices in the direction of the houses, watching the children courtyard. The spaces are versatile, continuous and have a controlled lighting. The lobby and the first classroom can be transformed into a dining hall. The classrooms connected through the changing room to the courtyard, enjoying an excellent orientation to the east by the horizontal window that rests on the slope, and a pixilated image of a bunch of leaves gives the interior corridor screened light from the west.
In the construction, industrial materials have been used: steel, concrete, glass and wood with two exceptions: a green roof that wants the village inhabitants to keep looking at the countryside and the color glass that makes the access corridor a fun area for children and gives to the building a representative character when welcoming the population and the visitors of Els AlamĂşs.
Tradition and innovation are the two faces of the same coin and we believe evolution is the combination of both. Glocal means to think globally and to act locally, but what we do is to act globally and to think locally. This vision has led to the design of more than sixty projects during past nine years in 12 countries, dealing with different assignments that involve programs from residential, mixed use, educational, cultural and commercial.
2011 - Xavier Vilalta awarded TED Fellow. Long Beach, California, U.S.A.
2009 - 3rd prize: SAIE Selection 9. BolognaFiere, Italy. 11 urban houses.
2010 - Winner: SAIE Selection 10. BolognaFiere, Italy. Melaku Center.
2008 - Winner : Young architect of the year at the Leaf Awards 2008. Arreletes Day-Care Centre.
2010 - Selected building: Lleida Architecture Awards 2008-2010. Arreletes Day-Care Centre.
2007- Selected building: Lleida Architecture Awards 2005-2007. El Niu Kindergarten.
MEDIA Xavier Vilalta guest keynote speaker at the conference “Unreasonable at Sea Barcelona” - 2013
One of the most significant phases of our work is the diffusion process. Effective communication is an essential component of the design projects. From face to face dialogue to public presentations and exhibitions, we share the projects’ ideas and to the final users needs. This interaction is about reaching a mutual understanding and gaining a response that will enrich the design process.
TED University talk “how tradition creates innovation” - 2011
Melaku Center project fundraising campaign - 2010
Public figures from Barcelona giving their support for our project Melaku Center
A communication design is also about creating new media channels to ensure that the message reaches the audience target. Its process involves strategic business thinking, market research, creativity and problem-solving.
TEDx Madrid talk â€œFractals of knowledgeâ€? - 2011
The new Urban Gardens project will merge contemporary urban life and nature. The project design will connect the new neighborhood inhabitants with the environment by integrating contemporary architecture, local available resources and tradition. The master plan design establishes a hierarchy of program in order to provide privacy and quality of space to the community.
The apartment blocks are placed next to the limits to protect the houses and the common areas. The houses are grouped creating small communities with pedestrian walkways that connect the main streets with the heart of the project, the Club House.
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ALFARDAN GARDENS urban fabric
privacy shade The apartment ground to provide a wider space in the street and to host the parking lots URBAN OASIS buildings are elevated from the 01 ALFARDAN GARDENS
of the tenants. The apartments have cross ventilation and generous terraces overlooking the compound center. URBAN OASIS
views & privacy
shade & privacy
The houses have an L shape scheme that links the interior with an intimate and private garden and several roof terraces. This solution inspiration comes the combination of selected qualities of Gulf traditional houses and Mediterranea villas, bringing to modern life protection, shade and exclusivity.
The Club House is both spectacular and invisible. It is located in the center of the master plan and has an access from each side. There are two main structures defining the space.
The usable green roof that covers the indoors program and brings back to the community the space taken by its construction. Its landscape shaped roof melts with the outdoors pool area and the tennis courts. The light pergola shades the outdoors space and integrates the tennis courts fences as part of the design.
LE GRAND TAPIS
95 000 m2
The master plan in Tunisia was designed from scratch, a community of 2000 apartments and its facilities, in a very big land of 9 ha next to the Tunis airport. To initiate the proposal we did a preliminary analysis of the city of Tunis urban structure and of the cities nearby. We observed the local fibers, traditional colors and patterns.
Medina old city gates
We also looked at the Medina that is UNESCO heritage, has stand there for 1000 years and used to be closed by a wall with twelve gates as access points connected by paths.
Looking at the site, the extension of the existing streets created 9 initial blocks and courtyards, similar to the ones in Barcelona in terms of size.
Gates and connections
The master plan is also about combination and overlapping and it is a hybrid of the European block and the Arabic city, modified by the sun orientation of the apartments.
Climate orientation N-S
Final overlapping diagram
We considered the apartments scheme to be part of the main site guidelines. The initial perpendicular blocks started to mutate rotating the interior sides to have most of the apartments perfectly orientated north-south. In this way, they have a good orientation and thermal difference in both sides for cross ventilation in the Mediterranean climate.
The six “gates” enable the circulation around the site. The two main streets divide the site into three superblocks connected by the last three levels of the volume to reinforce the idea of the gates and also because the local regulations establish a maximum built surface in the ground that is half than the roof level. We integrated the idea of the gates of the city by identifying strategic points of access to be connected and this modified the initial geometry. The required programming of 3 different sizes created a volume that shades itself and allows the direct sunlight to the public space within a high density of volumes.
flats 60 sqm
flats 90 sqm
Shaded public spaces
Open corridors as a “filter”
The courtyards include the common facilities like a gym, a kindergarten and an outdoor market surrounded by public space and commercial areas on the ground floor of the buildings. The roof level is this new landscape created by connecting all the buildings, giving back to the community the space taken by the constructed volumes and it is where the neighbors can go up in the morning and have a long run of 2 km.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We were initially invited to present a proposal in an invited competition, to design a multistory shopping mall with big shops of international brands. We analyzed the existing malls in the city and we found this: glass structure buildings with empty large shops where people donÂ´t go mainly because they cannot afford it. A part from this, these create large energy demands because of the sun exposure on the glass in a city where actually you donÂ´t need this because of the constant temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees the whole year. Even though initially had nothing to do with the project, our attention was captured by the Old Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa where thousands of people buy their products from small vendors every day. So somehow, one of the first questions we asked ourselves was how could we design a contemporary multistory commercial building with these traditional market principles?
Going to the site, the project is surrounded by high-density residential buildings without much public space and is between two main parallel streets without a direct connection in 300 meters, so we proposed to create a diagonal pedestrian flow between both streets that shapes the ground floor and concentrates the entrances to the building. This entrance extends with a diagonal atrium that showcases all the levels from the ground floor and reinforces the idea of continuity of the different levels. The inclination creates also a controlled light and shade, protection from the rain and an interesting distribution of plans that makes each floor different.
We also thought about how to close the building and for that we designed a concrete shell that responds to the climate conditions, it protects from the sun and the rain and it is perforated bringing light and ventilation to the interior. This was a very cost efficient decision because a part from having an economical faĂ§ade solution, the building doesnÂ´t need to have air conditioning and false ceiling to hide it like all shopping malls have in the city.
After presenting all these ideas: the developers really liked it and we won the competition and, in terms of business, the idea of the market happened to be even more profitable than the initial shopping mall.
For the faรงade, we developed the first ideas looking at these beautiful patterns of the Ethiopian women dresses. The idea evolved to an opening that combines the local technological possibilities, the concrete blocks, and those small prefabricated openings designed and built for the occasion that filter the light and the views.
The roof will become a new urban oasis with gathering areas and cafes covered by these circular porches that hold the photovoltaic panels and collect the water from the rain to be processed and reused for sanitary.
The image of the actual construction site, that is planned to be finalized by the beginning of next year.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Located in the growing financial Avenue of Lideta district in Addis Ababa United Bank Headquarters stands for its design innovation while taking into consideration the local available resources.
Ordinary tower and podium
A typical thick volume of a tower building has the core in the center and a wider podium in the lower floors. This is the starting point of a series of operations to transform traditional standard solution with a site-specific response.
By dividing and shifting the typical volume, the building gets improved natural lighting and ventilation in all spaces and at the same time the circulation cores get distributed to have multiple fire emergency exits.
Rotating and creating a chamfer, the volume stands from the others and orientates the main spaces North-South, orientating the building to the specific characteristic of the site, the corner.
Orientating the building NorthSouth creates a thermal difference that benefits cross ventilation and significantly reduces the main wind structural load from the EastWest.
Symbolic level variations
Sun protection and green roofs
Melting the podium with the towerÂ´s geometry reinforces the idea of creating a united building from the addition of several volumes. The combination of level variations and the distributed cores integrates a subtle representation of the company logo.
The building common spaces align to the streets creating usable terraces. One common treatment on the faĂ§ade protects from the south sun radiation.
Active energy systems
Passive and natural sustainable strategies are complemented with active engineering systems such as solar photovoltaic panels on the terraces porches, a general recycling water system for both grey and rain water.
The geometry of the building is flexible but personalized for the specific program. The hierarchy of different necessities achieves a mixeduse building with both private use and accessible public areas.
In addition, the new building will be a landmark by having integrated the brand identity as a meaningful expression of volumes that represent the word United. A series of design strategies will transform a traditional standard building into a landmark, combining ordinary solutions in response to the site to become extraordinary, sustainable from the design and construction point of view and complemented by active engineering systems.
Natural ventilation system is integrated within a false ceiling, and shading from the south sun radiation of the overall open air spaces is realized with a common treatment of horizontal brise-soleil.
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