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CARMEN ESPEGEL

HOUSING THEORY

Carmen Espegel is Doctor Architect and Full Professor at the Design Department of the School of Architecture of Madrid (Polytechnic University) and has lectured in Italy, USA, Belgium, Holland, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Portugal. She has written several books and numerous articles. In Vivienda Colectiva en España Siglo XX (2013), Eileen Gray: Objetcs and Furniture Design (2013), Aires Modernos, E.1027: Maison en bord de mer by Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici (2010) or Heroínas del espacio (2008), she denotes her critical thinking about architecture. She has been invited to participate as a member of juries for architectural competitions.

 

In the academic sphere she leads the Research Group "Collective Housing" (GIVCO), directs and teaches the Projects Design Module “Housing Projects” at the Master of Collective Housing ((MCH), imparts Doctoral Dissertations on Housing in the School of Architecture of Porto, and lectures Master Courses at the Master Housing (MH) in the University Roma Tre.

 

Professionally, Carmen Espegel and Concha Fisac ​​begin their careers independently in 1985 and 1984. In 2002 they created the firm espegel-fisac ​​architects, associating to form an architecture studio capable of integrating architectural quality and professional requirements. The studio itinerary is developed in three complementary areas: professional, research and academic. They participate in numerous competitions, obtaining several awards that, in many cases, are built. Among them we can highlight the intervention proposed for the transformation of the residential neighborhood Tiburtino III in Rome, Chamartín Market in Madrid, Isabel II Park –El Salón– in Palencia, or some social housing developments for the EMVs in Madrid. Involved with their work at national and international Conferences, Exhibitions and Congresses, such as the Shanghai World Exposition (China), or the exposition at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London (RIBA) and the Gallery of AEDES am Pfefferberg (Berlin), their work has been collected in books and magazines such as El Croquis, Arquitectura Viva, ON, Arquitectura, Pasajes, Arquitectos, Future  and Oris.

 

Their work has been honoree in several occasions such as X Biennial of Spanish Architecture and Urbanism; COAM prizes (Official College of Architects of Madrid) in 1993, 2000, 2003 and 2005; First ATEG Galvanizers Prize 2004; Mention in the XIX Awards Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering 2004 of the City of Madrid; Award given to the best built of Social Housing (2002) by the Superior Council of Colleges of Architects of Spain; or Finalist FAD Awards in 2005, and Selected in 2005 and 2012.

 

Among other activities, Carmen Espegel has developed an entire career on the study of European and, particularly, Spanish Collective Housing.

Carmen Espegel - Projects

Ant's House

Architects:  Espegel-Fisac Arquitectos

Location: Collado Villalba, Madrid, Spain

Year: 2010

Images/text from: http://espegel-fisac.com/

 

By the Architects:

The Ants' House is formally conceived considering the surrounding environment and its location on a large plot in the Manzanares Park, immersed in the mountains near Madrid.

The house is meant to dominate the vast natural world which lies beyond its entrance. Its shape is designed by nature. Just like an outstretched hand, the house works its way through the almond trees reaching out from in between the branches, reaching towards different spaces and lights effects.

Its location, on the southern slope of the mountains, gives the house favourable climatic and environmental features. The climate of the mountains of Madrid, with mild Winters and pleasantly warm Summers, combines cold temperatures with plenty of sunshine during the Winter and cool nights in the Summer, making it an ideal location for bioclimatic design.

The location, combines two basic conditions: proximity to an urban centre and ease of access, as well as the pleasure of the mountains and the natural surroundings. Dualism is also present in the house: nature vs man-made.

The house is a two level building with a concrete staircase located in a central position. The ground floor, which adapts to the sloped ground through a wide ramp, is a large open space which has different functions: a reading zone, a fireplace, a socialising area, an outward view towards the patio, a service area which comprises the kitchen, as well as the laundry, storage and facilities. This single space extends as far as the South Terrace, it borders with the swimming pool and a large almond tree, and eventually ends under the span of a concrete slab, in a covered outdoor dining area.

The first floor, built over part of the lower one, hosts a guestroom in the cantilever over the outdoor dining area, a  bedroom for the children with a large playroom, and the master bedroom with a mezzanine which creates a canopy over the bed and provides a view over the Northern mountains.

Lastly, the great spanned structure, is closed by a concrete slabs and walls, wrapped in a translucent glass skin protected from the western sun by aluminum slats.

Because of its shape, the house acts as a "solar funnel" with a high degree of passive solar collection, with openings towards the South and West, whereas the more contained size and profile facing North prevents excessive heat loss, typical of this orientation. The southern sun, warm in the Winter and harmless in the Summer, is what the building captures most. The western sun, less intense and milder in the Winter and horizontal but hot in the Summer, is controlled by tiltable external sunshades.

During the Winter the heat intake is achieved by direct solar gain in areas with a southern exposure, and by the indirect contribution of solar collectors on the roof as well as floor heating in the internal zones. During the night maximum insulation is required from the glazing, this is achieved by enclosing its perimeter with velvet curtains. Extra power support is provided by a gas boiler and a fireplace located in the reading area which can benefit from this radiation.

In the Summer, intense southern sun is screened by protecting the façades with the upper floor cantilever, and the Western façade is protected by adjustable horizontal aluminum slats on a swing frame. The inside temperature is lowered by using Gravent type windows, which provide permanent cross ventilation: they are installed in the upper parts of the glass panes in the living room and master bedroom. The system can extract heat and cool off the roof during the Summer months, while the large blade fans, hanging from the concrete slab, work at low speed to unlay the hot air in the Winter and provide cool in the Summer. The insulation of the wide terrace surface is obtained by a permanent vegetative cover, which reduces the heat  of the sun by evapotranspiration.

The property has a radiant floor heating system with zonal thermostatic regulation: the main contribution comes from the solar energy captured over a 16 m2 area of ​​ vacuum tube collectors. The energy for radiant floor heating  is stored in a  750 litre tank with double insulation, with an additional 300 liters for hot water [ACS]. Further heating support consists in a natural gas mixed-use boiler.

In absence of occupants, solar heat is primarily used to temper the space and maintain the fixed temperature setpoint. This heat will circulate through the radiant floor as long as the storage temperature is at 30 °C  or until it falls to 25 °C. When the temperature exceeds the interior setpoint, circulation will be deactivated, producing an increase in the accumulation temperature up to 50 °C. Whenever the accumulation temperature exceeds the temperature limit, heat is redirected to the swimming pool which is equipped with a thermal cover to prevent temperature loss. This allows the bathing season to be extended by at least two months before and after the Summer, and also increases the life of the collectors.

The blind façades of the house have been wrapped in an outer layer of stadip 5+5 mm glass with translucent butyral held by a horizontal steel substructure fixed to the reinforced concrete walls or to the light cellular concrete blocks using anchorage elements which create  a vertical ventilation air chamber. The insulation used in these walls is an 8 cm rock wool layer plugged to the outside of the 30 cm concrete wall.

All The carpentry and glazing have high insulation and low emissivity properties. The insulated carpentry has been provided with the Climaplus (8/16/5+5) double glazing, which consists of an inner Planitherm layer and an outer Planilux layer and an argon gas filled  air chamber. Coloured glass has been used in some cases, as in the entrance hall and the courtyard, to convey a sense of artificiality.

Due to the large glazed areas of the house, a heavy structure of reinforced concrete walls and slabs was chosen to achieve high thermal inertia throughout the building:  this, together with the concrete floor, increases the efficiency of floor heating.

No cooling system has been necessary thanks to the correct bioclimatic design.

The architecture of the house spreads over the plot using small, low intensity settlements: lightning sticks provided with photovoltaic cells, large circular flowerbeds, insulated flooring concrete circular slabs resting on natural ground, wood staircases, which give rhythm to the natural surroundings.

 

23 Social Housing in Embajadores

Architects:  Espegel-Fisac Arquitectos

Location: Madrid, Spain

Year: 2004

Images/text from: http://espegel-fisac.com/

 

By the Architects:

The building proposed for Embajadores Street is born with a vocation for modernity, that is to say, with a contemporary vocation, in order to put its world into time, that is, space into time: the adjacent streets into their deserved date. A sober and simple yet complex construction, it also tells us of its resistance to disappearing under the rapid consumption of the market, and of its will to emit architecture for centuries. We learn from the dead and project happiness, too, for the unborn. The future building speaks to us of a new and clean history, without localisms or customs, because it will not simply read and interpret the medium that affects it, but will achieve a poetic transformation of its immediate reality. The interpretation of the old neighbourhood, the traditional courtyard and the withered corrala becomes poetic, that is, cause and effect of social modification, truthful and edifying.

 

New Civil Guard Barracks House in Oropesa del Mar

Architects:  Espegel-Fisac Arquitectos

Location: Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain

Year: 2011

Images/text from: http://espegel-fisac.com/

 

By the Architects:

The building is organized in two pieces, shaping an L that defines the access square opened to Plana Avenue, being the natural way to the roads that are approaching from the urban center. The access from the square is common to the official buildings and housing, setting up one only entry point. The square is paved and gardened with palm trees.

18 Houses in Fuenlabrada

Architects:  Espegel-Fisac Arquitectos

Location: Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain

Year: 2012

Images/text from: http://espegel-fisac.com/

 

By the Architects:

A private developer on the outskirts of Madrid, an expanded typical residential area of the golden years and a retrofit project to withstand the crisis, are the seeds for this work.

The new condition requires a fierce draft dehydration of the first proposal whose most representative architectural space, the core communications materialized by a single vertical space that stretches across the floor, organized the staircase, plateaus, common courtyard terraces, balconies and bridges connection between dwellings. After the adjustment, this space was reduced without losing their fundamental status as a backbone and visual and social relation ships connector. 

The space, which invades the whole building with color and light, through a visual diagonals leading to community courtyard terraces where you can see the sky and the garden, is achieved through the non-sectoring of the stairs.

Serious, measured, rigorous and economical elevation configured by the unique group of dwellings, draw a slice, a slip strips ribbon windows and a single opening in the NE and SW elevations.

The dominant material is face-brick, two colors that draw the diagonal typological grouping. A third brick, black, configures the basement dwellings that open to the garden. The dark metal carpentry and blinds and the setback of the dark brick column, emphasize the horizontal stripes.

The access porch from the street, atrium of the building, garden umbracle becomes a veranda to the pool. In the limited space of the sunny setback generously offered by the legislation stands an efficient pool, narrow and long with sporty character.

Carmen Espegel - At MCH

Espegel's MCH Experience

  • Guest professor MCH'2006, MCH'2007, MCH'2008, MCH'2009, MCH'2010, MCH'2011, MCH'2012, MCH'2013
  • Housing Projects specialty leader MCH'2017, link to Program
  • Housing Theory specialty leader MCH’2018, link to Program
  • Housing Theory specialty leader MCH’2019, link to Program
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