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Social Housing and Public Facilities by Sergi Serrat, Barcelona, Spain

Sergi Serrat’s innovative social housing scheme incorporates a civic centre and 28 parking spaces. Photography by Adrià Goula

In the 2005 AR Awards, juror Sean Godsell expressed disappointment at the lack of innovative housing schemes. With the awards dominated by individual houses, the range of entries suggested that young architects were either not given the opportunity to work on larger collective housing schemes, or that when they were, outcomes were too generic. This scheme represents something of a milestone for the awards, with Sergi Serrat raising the bar in Barcelona.

Set on an awkward site at the eastern end of La Clota park on the northern borders of the city, Serrat’s design unifies 89 social housing units, 28 parking spaces and a 2,000m² civic centre into a dynamic and striking composition. Prioritising the orientation of the dwellings, two wings of accommodation benefit from a southeasterly aspect, rising four storeys above a plinth that negotiates the site’s 4m-slope that falls from west to east.

Comprising three elements, the plinth provides space for car parking (situated beneath the western range), four fully accessible residential units (under the eastern range), and the civic centre that forms the street frontage along south and east boundaries.

In accordance with constraints of the social housing brief, the residential units are identical on all levels and based on a compact 45m² plan (there are two exceptions: where the western range cranks and at the block’s easternmost end). While this sort of repetition might be considered problematic in achieving a diversity of occupants (the size of the units would thus exclude larger families), it must be hoped that the integration of domestic and civic functions will help ensure that the scheme develops a community spirit to match its vibrant architecture.

Architect Sergi Serrat
Project team Sergi Serrat, Ginés Egea, Cristina Garcia, Roberto Gonzalez, Anne Hinz, Tine Mahler
Structural engineer Basedos

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