FOA, Social Housing Carabanchel

Social Housing Carabanchel
Madrid, 2007

My fascination with the Carabanchel housing project is focused around the bamboo skin that is meant to control the internal environment of the building.  While it is successful in controlling the amount of natural light and air entering the building, the skin is fascinating to me because of its easy maneuvering. The bamboo panels create an air chamber between the building that changes the environment when opened and closed, similar to the function of windows and doors.  

What is most fascinating about the bamboo paneles, however, is their ability to change the facade of the building.  Their location, open or closed, is controlled by the residents within the building.  When all panels are closed the building appears to be a solid wooded structure.  When the panels are opened the skin appears to be peeling off.  Furthermore, the panels can be opened different amounts creating an additional texture to the building.  

When viewing the panels from inside the building, unique shadows are created when the panels are open or closed.  Light is still able to penetrate the panels when closed creating a interesting texture on the floor of each housing unit.  

A simpler solution for the structure would have been windows and panels that simply opened and closed, however, I think the sliding panel design is more successful.  The variety in textures of the facade and the human experience within the housing units is more unique because of the sliding panels.  

Similar to the "I am Lost in Paris" home discussed in a previous post, I appreciate the architect's ability to take a structural element and using it to create a more beautiful building.  Just as the home in Paris had a green wall to hide the home, but more importantly to control the light and temperature, FOA was successful in creating a mechanical element that exceeds beyond it's function. 

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