A Filtered Environment: University Building in Spain
Client: Universidad de La Laguna
Architect: gpy arquitectos
Location: Campus de Guajara, La Laguna, E–Teneriffa
The location could hardly be more diverse. Since noise and commotion are generally not good conditions for learning, gpy arquitectos decided to conceptualize their building like a filter. The structure, which features a façade of hanging slices of concrete, lets only selected environmental aspects penetrate – such as light. Long window bands made of cast glass immerse the interior in ambient, even illumination.
On the inside, however, these window strips are not clad in glass. Behind them lie the half-exposed corridors from which visitors enjoy an unobstructed view over the patios, the college’s own little Eden. The palm trees and other plants found there contrast with the grey façade, in some places jutting over the edge of the building. They give passers-by an inkling that the interior of the college is not nearly as bare as its exterior might suggest.
This design has made the art college into a closed-off landmark. On the other hand, the aloof exterior creates ideal conditions for a self-assertive interior. The patios can be used as teaching spaces as needed. The individual classrooms can be joined together or partitioned. The installation level is on the corridor side, so all dividing walls can be slid to the side at any time.
The curvilinear structure hugs a slope. Paths and a ramp lead to the round patios, creating a landscape that calls to mind the entrance to Oscar Niemeyer’s Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói. The sensual lightness is, atypically, emphasized by the surface of the exposed-concrete façade. Fine, irregular grooves on the exterior side create a vertical texture. The sun adds an ever-changing interplay of light and shade. On all the other sides, the concrete is covered with planks, giving a more restful feeling to the corridors and interior spaces.
With this project, gpy arquitectos show how innovative spatial concepts can be implemented even in university buildings. Future generations of students will profit from the experimental yet well-conceived possibilities offered by this edifice.