28224 Pozuelo de Alarcón
Other planning committee : Photos - Miguel de Guzmán (Imagen Subliminal)
Fabricator : Proinller
Architect : Luis Gayarre Arquitectos
A new identity for the American School of Madrid, using WICONA façades
Luis Gayarre Arquitectos was the studio commissioned to extend and renovate the library area, including its relaxed teaching space, the Commons area, and the dining hall of the American School of Madrid. Having recently brought in new teaching methods and technology, both of these spaces (built and arranged in a traditional manner) had become obsolete and underused. The purpose of this undertaking was to revitalise them and transform them into the nerve centre of the school that they once were.
The project brief was to extend both spaces and maximise their natural light, so the retaining walls in the basement had to be moved and the external walls of the ground floor had to be rebuilt. These are now curtain walls using Wicona WICTEC 50 which enhance the transparency and flow of the new library and Commons area, achieving maximum natural light which is essential for buildings with uses such as these. The curtain wall has an industrial finish with exposed screw fixtures, a modern and dynamic solution that suits the new style of these renovated spaces perfectly.
The extension has meant that two new double-height spaces could be created, linking the Commons area to the dining hall, situated in the basement, while making the latter much lighter.
The ground floor therefore consists of two spaces: the Commons area and the library, separated only by a glass wall and connected visually throughout. The Commons area is more open and is designed to be totally flexible; a space in which to eat, read, play, exhibit, create and share ideas. A flexible space that adapts to the needs of students and teachers at all times, where each student can learn at his or her own pace and where the teacher can provide one-to-one or group learning in a cable-free space. The library area comprises spaces for reading and for audiovisual activities in soundproofed surroundings, as well as individual and group study areas.
The dining hall and kitchens can be found in the basement. The dining hall, connected to the ground floor by two stairwells with perforated white metal sheeting and a glass elevator, has been given better accessibility and more light and space.
The kitchen and cafeteria are now arranged in a more convenient and appropriate way, allowing them to be separated from the dining hall once lunch sittings are over. This means that the kitchen can be completely sealed off and the dining hall can still be used throughout the day.
For the interior design, Luis Gayarre Arquitectos called on the services of Isabel López Vilalta. Together, they have succeeded in creating a new image and a stimulating environment, by using innovative materials such as continuous linoleum and quarried stone flooring, expanded white mesh suspended ceilings that expose the installations, continuous wood cladding and perforated white sheeting. And as the architects point out, “the existing structural elements have been highlighted, for example the dining hall ceiling, where the beams set the patterns for the suspended ceiling panels, or in the Commons area, where one can now see the original metal structure of trusses and corrugated sheet metal”. All this comes together to give this whole part of the school a new identity, a fresh new look and a better use of the facilities.