Spain’s two great city extensions (Barcelona’s and Madrid’s) have one feature in common: the layout of their streets is regular while the lots found within their blocks are irregular. The effect is curious: more or less uniform and orderly facades which conceal tortured, casually composed storeys behind. These conditions are more irrational than restrictive, though, and have compelled many architects to give their best and make the most of traditional design principles.
Here is a clear example of how the problem of an impossible lot can be solved. In theory, the railway tunnels undergound hinder the raising of more than two storeys, and the lot’s scarce setback from the street turns it into a narrow strip of commercial and residential premises in enfilade illuminated only one side. Nevertheless, at first sight, the model of the project of Tusquets, Diaz and Associates is traditional in the horizontal and vertical composition of its facades, though a closer look reveals certain subtleties in the tackling of difficult problems.
For example, the structure of central supports and cantilevered beams (the latter ones meant to save the tunnels beneath) is such that the facade neither physically nor visually rests on the ground. A shopping mall totally open to the street takes up the first floor, which by night is like an uninterrupted fringe of light separating the lower arches from the walls and upper glazed galleries.
The decreasing setback of the lot makes it necessary for therooms to vary in size, which explains why the facade is composed of two bodies with different rhythms articulated by a tower, a motif in turn repeated at the comers. The change of rhythm from one part of the facade to another is tackled in the portico by duplicating the pillars in one of them: an elegant solution with an almost Palladian flavor... [+]
Óscar Tusquets y Carles Díaz con Agustín y Carlos Borrell y Carlos Nicolau.