Arquitectura Viva
Saturday, July 20, 2019
24/09/2014

Echeverría y Celis, CRAI at University of Alcalá de Henares

 
Ernesto Echeverría and Flavio Celis – professors at the School of Architecture of the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) and members of the firm CDE Arquitectura – have refurbished part of the Cuartel del Príncipe, a barrack occupying a large block in the old quarter of the historical city beloning the greater Madrid area. The bays arranged in a U of the first courtyard, corresponding to the main facade of the sober military building of the 19th century, have been adapted to house the UAH’s new Resource Center for Learning and Research (CRAI). The intervention has involved accommodating the functional program in an interior space bordered by the volumetric envelope – protected by Alcala’s heritage codes –, whose restoration is reduced to the necessary elements, the minimum, and the restitution of the pitched roof by means of a structure of mixed trusses, in veneered wood and steel, with enclosures of panels of recycled shavings.

The interior structure of exposed concrete is arranged in parallel to the original masonry walls. Respecting the entrance hall, the ground floor includes what will be the museum space, over archaeological remains found during demolition works. Visually connected by courtyards set in alternating directions, the upper levels resolve the building’s central volume through trays of superposed slabs which form a continuous space penetrated by a linear staircase. The different levels contain multipurpose diaphanous spaces for consulting bibliographic collections and individual or collective study, as well as researchers’ offices and support classrooms along the side bays. The design seeks a balance between respect for the building’s original mass and the functional requirements of the new uses, without renouncing current languages.
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