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Workshop van Rijs + Borrego: Home Office

Master UPM/ETH in Collective Housing. 8-12 April 2019
Jacob van Rijs
Ignacio Borrego






After a period of excessive consumption of material and spatial resources in architecture and intervention in the territory, it is time to rethink the models of development and the need to work with the existing built environment.

The ideal green city far from being the desired approach to Nature, represents a low density scheme which increases the need for infrastructure and demands more shifting. The extensions that the cities have suffered in the last decades almost without exception have attended a model based on the private car, which has relegated the public space to infrastructural and leftover spaces.

The city of the future should be austere in resource consumption, and compact and three-dimensional as a way of formalization.

We are committed to operating with density and the efficiency of infrastructures. The growth of the urban population is over one million people weekly. Over two hundred cities in the developing countries are over one million inhabitants, and there are twenty cities with more than ten million residents. Furthermore, it is not expected to slow down the increase. Furthermore, density, is the most sustainable way to host a larger population with lower environmental impact.

The ecological footprint can be reduced if we offer a more sensible mix of uses in the city that can bring less need for commuting. We are usually working and sleeping in different places and that distance defines the behaviour of the city. If we manage to reduce it to the minimum we will help to reverse the negative evolution and introduce an optimistic vision of the future.

The separation between living and working, once a dogma of modern urbanism, has become more and more obsolete in the modern society where this division is fading.

We can combine live and work in different scales; we can plan a neighbourhood where residential units share the area with working blocks; or we can force that combination in the same buildings, or by creating new typologies under the concept of Home office, where living and working can happen in the same space.

Our research in this course will focus on a smaller scale but aims to have the overview of the whole picture of the design of our future environment.




We are looking for new generic types that are able to host housing, offices or both at the same time. Structures that design spaces for contemporary inhabitants and advance the needs of the future ones. How to deal with flexibility? Working spaces can become living spaces or vice versa. Combing it with character, adding a quality that defines the space whatever is happening inside.

The goal is to analyse and design a set of decontextualized types of home office buildings that can become a reference catalogue for specific interventions in contemporary cities.

Our case Study will consist in 6 Types included in a 2.500m2 square plot with sides of 50m x 50m and a edificability of 2.500m2 or a volume of 8.000 m3. These 6 types are classified according to their form factor (compactness-porosity), and their height (short-tall).

These dimensional restrictions will have an influence on the amount of vertical and horizontal circulations, and on the quality of the spaces to have views and natural ventilation.

The proposed matrix of types defines a case study catalogue that will be distributed among the group of students of three members.





Study Cases:

SC 1: Tower (15mx15m, H=33m)
SC 2: Cube (20mx20m, H=20m)
SC 3: Plate (50mx50m, H=1 floor)
SC4: Thin slab (6mx50m, H=25m)
SC5: Slab (15mx33m, H=15m)
SC6: Fat slab (25mx50m, H=2 floors)




Considering the total buildable volume (7.500-8.000m3) and the assigned form type, each group will analyse the following three aspects. Each member of the group will choose one:

1.1. Infrastructural expert. Each type will have a skeleton that will organize and support the content. Depending on the analysed type the amount of cores and galleries will provide different possibilities of use with diverse qualities and efficiency.

1.2. Functional expert. The different parts of the home office program (work, live, sleep, cook…) have to be analysed to define spatial requirements (height, light, space, view, intimacy…).

1.3. Technical expert. Construction and energy should have an influence on the quality and potential of the result. Structural and construction system, general installations systems, façade system, passive elements, active systems, interior and exterior spaces…

These three parallel analysis will consider the possibility of the user of changing the space as much as possible during the life of the building. This will combine our research on home office with the principles of open-building.

The aim is to define a flexible system which, with a minimum amount of resources, can attain the greatest potential with the fewest constraints. Defining an infrastructure able to adapt to different layouts may involve greater initial effort. But it is also offset by greater adaptability for users and their changing needs over time.

After one day of deep research in these three aspects, the results will be shared inside the group, and new tasks will be given.



Once the infrastructural, programmatic and technical approach is initiated, each group will develop one option of the given type to include four different programmatic configurations:

2.1. 100% home
2.2. 100% 0ffice
2.3. 50% home + 50% office
2.4. 33% home + 33% 0ffice + 33% new program

The results of these option have to be represented in plan, section and elevation in a scale of 1:200.



The support (skeleton and fix elements that are not decided by the user) will be represented in one layer or paper, and the infill (the rest of the elements that are suitable to be changed or decided by user during the design phase or use of the building) will be printed in a transparent paper to overlap on the support.

The goal is to produce at the end 1 support and a set of 4 transparencies (2.1 +2.2 + 2.2 + 2.3 + 2.4) to overlap on the support with the work of all the groups. Each matrix will have one of the proposed programmatic configurations.



The result from the previous phase will be shared among all the teams, and a new project of 10.000m2 will be developed by each group on the same plot of 50m x 50m, mixing 3 or 4 types from all the groups at any desired proportion.

The working format will be the same (plan, section and elevation,1:200). Additionally, an axonometry from the same point of view as the given for the basic volumes will be developed.




9:00 – 9:30     Presentation of the workshop topic. (JvR + IB)
9.30 – 10.30     Introduction to Home Office Research Jacob van Rijs (JvR + IB)
10:30 - 11.30    Introduction to case study. Ignacio Borrego (JvR + IB)
12:00 - 13.00     Groups and questions (JvR + IB)
13:00    Lunch
14:00 – 17.00     Work in groups (Phase 1: Analysis)
17:00 – 18.00     Desk crits (Phase 1: Analysis) (IB)
18:00 - 20.30     Work in groups (Phase 1: Analysis)


9:00 – 10.00     Lecture on housing – MVRDV. Jacob van Rijs (JvR + IB)
10:30 – 11.30     Presentation of research results (Phase 1: Analysis) (JvR + IB)
12:00 – 14:00     Visit to Sanchinarro (El Mirador-MVRDV) (JvR + IB)
14:00 – 15.00     Lunch
15:00 – 17.00     Work in groups (Phase 2: Study Case)
17.00 – 18.00     Desk crits (Phase 2: Study Case) (IB)
18.00 – 20.30     Work in groups (Phase 2: Study Case)


9:00 – 10.00     Lecture on housing. Ignacio Borrego (IB)
10:00 – 12.00     Desk Crits (Phase 2: Study Case) (IB)
12:00 – 14.00     Work in groups (Phase 2: Study Case)
14.00 – 15.00     Lunch
15:00 – 17.00     Work in groups (Phase 2: Study Case)
17:00 – 19.00     Desk Crits (Phase 2: Study Case) (IB)
19:00 – 20.30…   Work in groups (Phase 3: Mix Proposals)

9:00 – 11.00     Work in groups (Phase 3: Mix Proposals)
10:00 – 12.00     Desk Crits (Phase 3: Mix Proposals) (IB)
13:00 – 14.00     Work in groups (Phase 3: Mix Proposals)
14:00 – 15.00     Lunch
15:00 – 17.00     Work in groups (Phase 3: Mix Proposals)
17:00 – 19.00     Desk Crits (Phase 3: Mix Proposals) (IB)
19:00 - 20:30…     Work in groups (Phase 3: Mix Proposals)

9:00 – 14.00     Work in groups (Phase 3: Mix Proposals)
14:00 – 15.00     Lunch
15:00     Results submission PDF
15:30 – 20.30     Final Presentation of Study Cases and Mix Proposals (JvR + IB)
21:00 - …     Dinner (JvR + IB)

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