Bac de Roda Barcelona

The white block

Barcelona, 1997. After a restricted call for tenders launched by Inmobiliaria Colonial, we began this project involving the construction of a block of 240 homes in Poblenou.

The designed housing is based on Cerdà’s urban planning model, including several variations. The edifice is not an enclosed island but is organised into four multi-family buildings that form the block’s perimeter. There is a group of 20 single-family homes grouped together in its interior. This type of plan is in line with the postulates of the project: the unity of the whole as an urban look.

The block layout has been adapted to break up the corners until they disappear, although they are visually implied from the outside by the way in which the corners of each of the four buildings terminate. Each acting as a semi-block.

Interior ventilation shafts are therefore avoided by freeing up the corners. This means that they are all dual-façade homes facing two directions, thereby allowing cross ventilation. This is a positive contribution with regard to Cerdà’s Eixample housing, given that it avoids dark, poorly lit interior rooms. Externally, the building’s relationship to the existing layout is guaranteed.

The façade folds into itself to create an ever-changing view. A lively, undulating outer skin. The final result is a treasure trove of shades and tones as variants of white, as well as a grey scale combining with the play of shadows. “Origami” architecture.

Inside the block, there are 20 single-family homes in two groups of 10 facing a pedestrian walkway that traverses the block. These are protected by various architectural mechanisms and resources to maintain privacy.

The lack of a green area inside the block means that the rooftop of the single-family homes is the only view from inside the perimeter. Sloping roofs of zinc sheeting, flat gravel roofs and inner courtyard openings have been used as cut-outs to improve the visual quality of the space. An exposed sloping concrete canopy caps off this visual protection and allows natural light into the car park, thereby generating significant energy savings.

A solution based on flexibility has been provided for the interior layouts of the homes.

This “white block” has become an iconic building that takes up the baton from the tradition of Cerdà to adapt it to a new context in a fresh and innovative manner.

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  • LocationBarcelona
  • Year1997-2000
  • Surface40.000 m2
  • PromoterInmobiliaria Colonial
  • In collaboration withCarles Ferrater