White concrete overlapping planes elevate the modular into the atmospheric in this health sciences faculty in semi-rural Zaragoza
Housing teaching facilities for students of pharmacy, nursing and physiotherapy at Zaragoza’s San Jorge University, this Faculty of Health Sciences joins two existing buildings, a rectory and Communications Faculty, on the periphery of the city.
Though the setting is semi-rural, the landscape is not especially bucolic, peppered with scrub and spindly saplings, as the campus is still evolving. ’In reply, the building turns in on itself around an intimate triangular patio formed by a trio of L-shaped wings. In this way it both defines and becomes the landscape. ‘It’s architecture thought of as part of a new nature’, as Javier Pérez-Herreras, partner in TBA, describes it. ‘It offers a new landscape of white scales breathing light on the outside and a big room open to the sky on the inside.’
Imbricated concrete planes form the perimeter of the faculty: between them narrow slots of glazing mitigate glare and solar gain
Evoking the whiteness and hermeticism of traditional Iberian architecture, each wing is conceived as a set of overlapping white planes or scales in the landscape. Thin glazed slots between the scales present guarded views out and channel daylight from the south and east into classrooms and research spaces.It’s faculty as fortress, a crisply executed and self-contained grove of academe, with a triad at its heart.
The dimensions and configurations of the room modules are not proscriptive so rooms can be adapted to a range of uses. Spaces are single loaded off spinal connecting corridors running around the inner patio side. Here the concrete is left raw, like the rough core of a geode, and incised with larger planes of glazing.
The jury thought this a highly accomplished and imaginative response to the challenge of a brief that is essentially a repetitive series of classroom units. The solution makes a virtue of this repetition and elevates the modular into the atmospheric, creating architecture with a strong topographic presence in a nondescript campus terrain.
Oblique angles draw visitors in to the courtyard
Architect: Taller Básico De Arquitectura
Photographer: JM Cutillas