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La Salle business centre and classroom block, Ramon Llull University

Roberto y Esteban Terradas Muntañola, arquitectos

Description Technical file

This work of remodelling and change of use of an existing building within a university campus offers an intelligent and paradigmatic version of how flexibility in adopting project alternatives permits tackling functional problems of great complexity.

This project deals with the reform of an old municipal old-people’s home built during the nineteen-seventies in order to transform it into a multifunctional building at the service of the La Salle Engineering and Architecture School of Ramon Llull University. The floor plan of the building is a rectangle measuring 85 x 16 metres, occupying a central position within the campus. The main facades give on to a park (South) and the communal square, playing pitches and sports centre (North).

The programme included the General and Administrative Management of La Salle, classroom block and degree rooms, business centre, university departments and a residential zone. The new programme not only entailed new uses, with considerable and necessary flexibility for its surfaces and consequently for its installations; it also planned for a considerable increase in the internal movements and circulation of people that has finally been resolved by locating the main core of communications on the outside of the existing building.

The structure of the building and the dimension of its porticoes was the usual one at the time, while the height between forgings is the one strictly necessary for the use to which it was destined, consisting of a system of porticoes made of reinforced concrete pillars and mixed beams with laminated steel profiles and reinforced concrete (every 3.4 m and bays of 7.2 m and 7.0 m with overhangs of 2 m at both ends) that support the ceramic forging. While the recalculation of the structure revealed sufficient load bearing capacity, its deficient state of conservation has required a series of pertinent actions, both of reinforcement and of restoration.

The lack of free height between forgings (2.80 m), to which was added the necessary installation of a technical floor, conditions, once liberated, the floor plan of the vertical communications, the appearance of a precise modulation to support a series of installation cupboards, one for every two porticoes, in which to accommodate the acclimatisation machinery, the electrical panels and the complex IT network. This modulation produces an orderly grid of false ceilings and floors in which to place the installations, acclimatisation grilles, detector lighting, IT networks, etc, in order to obtain the desired freedom of uses and any possible future modifications.

The flexibility of the floor plan has conditioned the design of the façade partitions to the extent of making them capable of accommodating the partitions of the different rooms according to the requirements of any given time. The South façade, characterised in the original building by long terraces with exposed brick ledges, has been resolved by means of sliding doors 1/3 of the separation between structural axes. In contrast, the North façade is configured through the repetition of a single element composed of a rectangular framework of extruded aluminium profiles (purpose-made for this work) of 3.2 m and 1.13 m that contains the glass panes, both perforated and opaque. The opaque elements are prefab sandwich panels with a composite layer as a finish.

On the other hand, the internal image of a building conceived initially as an old-people’s home had to change to that of a university building: the systematic modulation and the introduction of various colours in the opaque elements have both customised the various floors and encouraged the building’s internal creativity and compositional mobility. Each floor has been finished in a cladding of colourful laminated panels, using the corporate hues in the classrooms on the semi-basement floor, different shades of green on the access ground floor from the park, orange on the first floor, red on the second, green on the third, yellow on the fourth and a natural wood colour on the Management floor.

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Situación: Quatre Camins 14. Barcelona. Autores: Roberto y Esteban Terradas Muntañola, arquitectos. Arquitecto adjunto: Marc Arnal Huguet. Gestión de proyecto y arquitecto técnico: EDECTO + ATAC. Estructuras: NB 35 Barcelona. Instalaciones: TCA. Joan LLuís Fumadó, Juan Briz y Santiago Velasco. Promotor: Funitec – Fundación privada Universidad y Tecnología. Fotografía: Aitor Estévez Olaizola.
Roberto Terradas Muntañola
Esteve Terradas Muntañola
Aitor Estevez