El Viso Row House

This row house is located in El Viso, one of the few rationalist garden neighborhoods in Madrid, which makes this house highly interesting for architects and urban planners.

The aim of this rehabilitation project was to preserve the original elements of the rationalist architecture while giving a contemporary style to the house through our furniture designs and novel interior design proposal. On the interior, the rounded jambs on the windows, the wooden floor and the stairs were maintained; and on the exterior the simple volume, its voids and its fenestration. Very few streets in Madrid maintain, as does this one, the unified design of the fences, with their thick granite copings and tubular bars. The use of glass block in the entry façade, characteristic of this area even though it was added in the 40’s, was also maintained.

In order to make the house more energy efficient, the steel sash windows, identical to those used by the Bauhaus, were restored and adjusted to admit thermal glass where they were designed with simple panes. Other characteristic elements that were preserved are the rounded window jambs on the interior. This detail, subtly diffusing incoming daylight, softens the space.  

The intervention, regarding both its architecture and interior design, adapts the house to the needs of a contemporary family. Changes in life habits suggested that we move the kitchen from the semi-basement to the ground floor, alongside the dining room and living room. In the semi-basement a bedroom and bathroom remain, while the garage was enlarged and additional bedrooms converted to a library. On the first floor the three bedrooms and two bathrooms remain, and on the second floor we proposed a playroom and a little studio, as they appear in the drawings for Mercadal’s own house, which was adjacent to this one. The main uses of the house are concentrated in two floors.

Our proposal for the ground floor was to open up the space as much as possible taking out the partitions that divided the dining room from the living room, leaving a riveted steel column exposed next to the stairs. The kitchen is enclosed by large translucent doors. The stair wall was given a rounded shape, inspired by the existing windows jambs, while the living room’s dropped ceiling is cut by big arcs, covering a ceiling beam and creating cove lights. This room opens up to the garden through a 3m-wide sliding glass door that provides luminosity to the interior space and access to a large terrace riddled with circular glass blocks. The use of glass blocks provides light to the basement courtyard beneath.

The stairs that gives access to the first and second floors, as well as the Art Deco rail and a porthole skylight, were preserved and restored.

Our product designs in acrylic glass introduce color and contemporaneity to the intervention, where the modernist and the design of today contrast and blend in an unexpected way. The “Plexijazz” screen separates the entry hall from the dining area, where the central element is the fluorescent “Pleximesa” table. The natural light penetrates the space, heightening the transparency and lively color of these objects, as well as that of other designs of ours that complement the group, such as the “Chromodular” shelf and the “Ribbin Rocker”. The “Articulare” chimney, now produced by DAE Chimeneas, was designed specifically for this location in the house, the center of the living room, and its compact and curved form responds to the aforementioned circular and rounded elements.

The bedrooms, on the second floor, have been colorfully decorated with Peruvian bedspreads and the acrylic glass “Cube-rick” tables in bright colors. Separated by a dressing room there is a principal bathroom associated with the bedroom, where in the sanitary fixtures and accessories are all from the Frontalis series designed by Rafael Moneo and Belén Moneo for Roca.

As this house was to be our own, we were able to use it as a laboratory to test de functionality of our designs. We use new materials, testing their characteristics in real conditions. In the kitchen, for example, we are testing the mirrored glass of the cabinet doors and the backlit reflecting glass of the backsplash. In the third floor’s diaphanous playroom with access to a roof terrace we have covered the ceiling and walls with OSB panels, leaving exposed the main steel beam. We have also designed a storage system with plastic containers used in fruit packing.

Finally, we have transformed the basement, which had been exclusively for service making the spacious library with excellent natural light thanks to the 3m-wide double sliding doors that open up to a large sunken courtyard connected by stairs to the garden. Other designs of ours, such as the “Woodular” shelf system, the “Shooz Long” chair and the lamp “jamonera”, turn this space into a comfortable place to work and read. 

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Client

Private

Location

Madrid, Spain

Architects

Belén Moneo, Jeffrey Brock

Structural engineer

NB35

Contractor

Proyectos Swadance

Parish Church in Pueblo Serena

The church “El Señor de la Misericordia” is located in the center of a new town-like urban development in Monterrey, Mexico, surrounded by an impressive mountain landscape.  The most important factor in the siting and orientation of the church is its relationship to the largest open space of the development, a verdant plaza.  Its main entry opens right onto the plaza, and with an unobstructed width of 11.5 meters (38 feet), this opening allows for the visual connection between the church’s interior space and the plaza. This entry is at once delineated and protected by a large trapezoidal canopy cantilevered off the main façade.  

Above the entry canopy, the façade is a large flat wall without fenestration or ornament, an emphatic and nearly square plane, declarative of the otherness of the space behind and within: the sacred space of the church interior. Its blatant frontality toward the square is entirely intentional.

It is thought that the plaza can function as an annex to the church, with religious celebrations and rites spilling out of doors when attending crowds exceed the church’s capacity of 350 worshippers. On the other hand, when the bustle of the square comes into conflict with the solemnity of the church’s activities, large sliding screens attenuate the connection to the square and restore the peaceful atmosphere to the temple interior.

The project aims to go beyond the accommodation of religious rituals and liturgical events as currently practiced in Monterrey, to where the spaces of the temple represent the development of an architectural language with a very long history, where the architecture speaks of both continuity and renewal, finding references to a great heritage of ecclesiastical architecture while simultaneously remaining unquestioningly contemporary.  The temple is seen not just as a place of meditation but as a social and educational center as well.

While the character of the church is undoubtedly contemporary, its volumetric concept was derived from traditional church plans; the design presents recognizable architectural features taken from early Christian temple prototypes such as the bell tower, the stained-glass windows, the frontal altar, the baptistery, the choir, the three chapels and the lateral courtyard. The architectural proposal is therefore thought to be both recognizable and new.  

Being free-standing and in the center of the new town development, the configuration of the exterior volume presents a design that, while modern, communicates solidity and aplomb. The rotund forms are thought to be reminiscent of the first missions built by Friar Junipero throughout the American Southwest, constructed of wood and adobe.  

The 43 meter- (141 foot-) -tall bell tower can be seen from a great distance, and serves as a landmark and reference for drivers on the highway to Santiago, on which Pueblo Serena is located.

The plan is that of a basilica, with a rectangular central nave some 15 meters wide, 18 meters long and 15 meters high (W:49 feet, L:59 feet, H:49 feet), its long axis running north-south and oriented towards the altar.  There are multiple sources of natural light in the interior.  Behind the baptistery a long glass wall runs the length of the nave giving views of an enclosed patio.  The glass is protected from direct sun by a lightweight horizontal sunscreen projecting into the patio space, and the visual connection to the surrounding urban areas blocked by a massive stone screen at the patio perimeter. Within the patio, a water fountain spills a cascade of streams into a lower patio at the basement level.

Above the baptistery is a version of a rose window, a nine-square grid opening to the west with colored glass.  To the southeast, three small chapels each enjoy daylight from high skylights, each one oriented towards a different cardinal direction so that the color and level of light in each chapel changes throughout the day.  Finally, above the altar is a fourth high skylight, whose light washes down behind an inclined panel cut into four sections to reveal a large Latin cross, the cross glowing with the light from above.

As with all churches, the acoustics of the central nave were of paramount importance.  The renowned acoustic engineers of Arau Asociados made a thorough study of the conditions inside the church and helped us develop a detailed approach to the configuration of its interior surfaces, including the application of diffusing wood battens on selected walls, notable behind the altar, at the back of the three chapels and the choir, and over the entry door.

Sustainable solutions were sought at every opportunity.  After ensuring the project’s incorporation of thermal insulation of far and away greater performance characteristics than is typically used in local construction, we devised a system of natural ventilation that takes advantage of the bell tower’s great height to create a strong chimney effect drawing air through large-scale grills incorporated in the entry façade.  Daylighting was also carefully studied to be sufficient without the need for electrical lighting in all spaces for use and work, while at the same time we took great pains to avoid insolation during the hotter months, to keep the thermal gains as low as possible.  Finally, much of the building program is located underground, where temperatures are constantly comfortable, with daylight being provided by generous sunken patios.

The interior design is fully integrated with the architecture, and the furnishings are by Moneo Brock, from the wood benches to the altar, the choir and the multiple screens, the sliding doors at the entry, the doors to the main sanctuary and the screen that separates the baptistery from the central nave.  We also designed elements of a more artistic nature, such as the stained glass windows of the “rose window” (a reinterpretation of the gothic feature, here oriented to the west for maximum effect during the evening Mass), the stained glass at the entry to the ossuaries, and the two sanctuaries, sunbursts made of gold or silver triangles canted to catch light from all angles.

Various artworks were commissioned for the church under Moneo Brock’s curatorial guidance: a large sculpture of Christ on the cross carved in wood by the Galician artist Francisco Leiro, a mural in encaustic of John Paul II in the third chapel painted by Pedro Cuní of New York, and a tall painting of the Christ the Merciful by Carmen Pinart of Madrid, now hanging in the second chapel.  These pieces by contemporary artists, respectful of the traditional content called for by church’s benefactors and clergy, complete the space.  

Thanks to the opening up of two large sunken patios, the various spaces on the basement level are flooded with natural light.  Around the north patio are the parish’s administrative offices.  The patio to the west with the cascading waterfall has to one side classrooms and multifunctional spaces for the community and to the other the ossuaries and a small chapel for funeral rites, spaces that are made more private in their location behind the waterfall.  One of the challenges facing us in the design of the basement was the need to connect to the commercial atrium at the lower level; to create a space of transition between atrium and church, we designed a vestibule lit by an open-air, prismatic skylight and, immediately below it, a reflecting pool.

The landscape design of Harari LA successfully integrates the architectural concept with that of the larger urban project, using Holm oaks and a spectacular control and selection of the planted material to mediate between the different built structures that compose the larger development.  

 

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Client

Plaza Serena (Real Estate in Huajuco Canon)

Location

Carretera Federal 500, Monterrey México

Building size

17,222 sqft

Budget

$ 2.077.717

Architects

Belén Moneo, Jeffrey Brock

Architects team

Irene Alberdi, Andrés Barrón, Fabrice Leray, Jaime Salvador, Sara Pericacho, Irene Hernádez, Juan Galloso

3d model

Fabrice leray, Andrés Barrón

Structural engineer

RGT Engineering (Gerardo Hernández)

Acoustical consultant

Arau Acustic (Higiniarau)

Contractor

Plaza Serena

Photographer

Jorge Taboada

The University of El Rosario Laboratory Building

The Quinta Mutis campus in Bogotá is one of the three campuses of the University of El Rosario in Bogotá. The projected building is located on the southwest corner of the campus adding almost 25,000 m² of classrooms, laboratories and common spaces. The building will replace some temporary structures built years ago, currently used as classrooms, adding significant new area and at a much higher level of amenity.

Moneo Brock has carefully designed the project to emphasize and update the values of the University, with the goal of opening the campus and providing it with a large agora having been priority throughout the project’s development.

The taller volume of laboratories has been given the shape of a mineral outcropping that responds to the city-scape of Bogotá and its environment, while the lower volume adapts to the surrounding buildings, some of them of historical value for the city. Both shapes share common spaces and emphasize communication, facilitating the practical use of the building.

A large terrace on top of the lowest volume opens the cafeteria to panoramic views of Bogotá. This plaza-garden is not only open to the interior common spaces of the campus, but to the surrounding city and its inhabitants.

Sustainable design and flexibility were both high priorities in the design of the new building. This project is being developed by a multidisciplinary team based in Madrid and in Bogotá.

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Location

Bogotá, Colombia

Gross area

270,000 sqft

Architects

Belén Moneo, Jeffrey Brock, Fernando de la Carrera, Alejandro Cavanzo

Architects team

Francisco Blázquez, Irene Alberdi

Model

Moneo Brock

3d model

Moneo Brock

Park on the River Tajo

This sustainable proposal seeks to preserve and revitalize the ecosystem of the River Tajo, recuperating this natural area for the enjoyment of all citizens of Talavera pointing out the possibility this Tajo Natural Park, beginning in Talavera, can grow, adding territories and cities in such a way that, in a few years, we could follow the river from the Guadarrama mountain to its mouth in Lisbon.


The project is understood as a series of interventions, all consisting with this promising idea. The River’s protagonism in the Talavera de la Reina cityscape will be reasserted. It will be made accessible for the enjoyment of all citizens through a series of interventions and activities that bring the natural landscape of the river closer to the city. Finally, this park could become a tourist attraction for Talavera at a national level, as a supra-municipal infrastructure, with economic and social opportunities for the whole city.


The proposed solutions and objectives include sustainable measures to improve water quality, recover the habitats and species of this section of the Tajo River, improve the landscape and enable an increase in the use of the river and its banks in forms commensurate with the conservation of its biodiversity and its landscape. Opening the project to citizen participation should furthermore serve to achieve greater knowledge of the river’s history and evolution.


It is intended that the river be for "all" in the broadest sense; allowing the growth of the vegetation and the complex of habitats specific to the place, sheltering numerous autochthonous species of flora and fauna, improving and recovering the enormously attractive scenic landscapes of the river and its fertile plain, and allowing access by the citizens of and visitors to Talavera to the shores and islands for their use and enjoyment. In short, it is about achieving a Natural and Human River Landscape Park.

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Client

Confederación hidrográfica del Tajo y Ayuntamiento de Talavera de la Reina

Location

Talavera de la Reina

Architects

MONEO BROCK, BLASCO ESPARZA, EIN

Architects team

Irene Alberdi, Mathilde Noirot