Casa de las Flores (Madrid). Source: Wikipedia.
An emblematic building among the housing collective, and studied in all universities since its construction, La Casa de Las Flores in Madrid is striking both for its architecture and its location. Built in the 1930s and maintaining its original red brick, it is a revolutionary work at the time, and a model for many when it comes to understanding traditional housing in the centre of a large city.
On the corner where Rodríguez Sampedro and Hilarión Eslava streets meet, in the Chamberí neighbourhood and central district of Moncloa, this unique building stands out due to its shape and materiality, which contrasts with the rest of the neighbouring blocks of flats. The usual practice in residential constructions of the time was a layout based on maximum utilisation in order to achieve maximum profitability. To achieve this, tiny courtyards were used, which would not be permitted under current regulations.
The Casa de Las Flores in Madrid, however, stands as a rebellious dissonance that seeks to be a different and better building for those who live there. It is a proof that, despite the little space left for building in the city centre, it is possible to create buildings with original personality, in which people want to live, because of the comfort offered by quality architecture.
La Casa de las Flores (Madrid). Source: esmadrid.com
Construction began in 1930 and was completed two years later, resulting in one of the most representative buildings of rationalist modernity in architecture. It is a milestone, as it defies the municipal ordinance and focuses on creating a building that prioritises natural light, ventilation and the functionality of the building as a whole. Secundino Suazo is the architect who, in collaboration with Miguel Fleischer, achieves these objectives.
Description of the structural form of the building
The municipal by-laws in force
The construction plan for the Ensanche de Madrid envisaged erecting blocks of buildings that would provide housing for approximately 1,500 people. For this, they took as a reference that each block should have a minimum size of 100x100 and a maximum of 125x125. The exterior perimeter would be built and the interior would be free, thus creating a courtyard, despite the fact that in the first instance it was determined that it should be a block. The flats facing the patio de luces, therefore, were dwellings with poorer lighting and ventilation.
As opposed to the typical creation of the period, with different types of housing, in which some of them end up being of a lower category within the same building, Suazo wants to give light to both the dwellings facing the street and the internal ones, thanks to multiple, sufficiently large courtyards. This homogeneity is also present in the size of the dwellings.
Therefore, Suazo ended up achieving his goal: to demonstrate that, despite the urban limitations, another type of quality housing was possible. The architect did not want there to be better and worse dwellings within the same residential block, but he wanted them all to have good lighting, good ventilation and good health for their inhabitants.
Historical facts about La Casa de Las Flores in Madrid
The Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing is a professional and international postgraduate programme that is developed on a full-time basis, dealing with advanced architectural design in the city and housing. It is designed and taught jointly by the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).
The application period for MCH2022 is now closed. The application period for MCH2023 will open soon.