In addition to the Autopista de Circunvalacion on the edge of the town of Pozuelo de Alarcón, the architect came up with the masterplan for Francisco de Vitoria University, which was founded in the ’90s and still consists primarily of blocks of office and classroom buildings with an average height of three floors. This green area far away from the centre of the capital was lacking a heart, a building symbolically constituting the centre for all activities, a place to meet, talk and have fun.
Alberto Campo Baeza’s style is particularly appropriate for this purpose, taking expressiveness as far as it will go and freeing structures from technicism and eclecticism to give them greater symbolic value.
The Spanish architect was commissioned to produce a project that would provide the campus with a place for sports as well as new classrooms. His programme involved construction of a complex consisting of two volumes linked by a vestibule, one for classrooms and a bigger one for sports including multi-sport courts, a big gym, a big underground pool, a physiotherapy centre and offices. The key idea is that the space can be used flexibly for a variety of purposes, university activities of various kinds including meetings, conferences, entertainment and group learning events.
The studio created a space around the big gym large enough to contain two basketball courts or a football field, with three rows of bleachers totalling 200 seats. While the bleachers face east, towards a vestibule topped with a patio, the western side, which is completely open, seems to rise up to display the activities going on there to the main campus plaza. The fibreglass-reinforced concrete structure is completed at the bottom with a clear glass portion turning toward the north and south walls, so that the corners seem to “disappear” to create the illusion of a big compact box raised above the ground.
In actual fact this solution is an expression of the dualism between the stereotomic element and the tectonic element which is the key to Alberto Campo Baeza’s architecture. The new complex of two blocks linked on the ground floor consists of a steel frame with a grid of pillars and beams and concrete walls supporting the great weight of the roof. In stereotomic concrete architecture, massive and uninterrupted, glass portions appear on the northern and eastern walls of the gym building. This creates a perspective diagonal from the patio high up to the central plaza, passing through the multi-sport hall, and, vice-versa, from the outside through the gym to the patio over the vestibule and the body containing the classrooms, the point of arrival and the backdrop. Here, where gravity is transmitted discontinuously, clear, lightweight tectonic architecture is filled with light, contrasting with gravity to raise the volume upwards. And, to paraphrase Campo Baeza, in the immensity of white with which all the pillars, the beams and all the concrete panels, both inside and out, are painted light is reflected, multiplied and trapped to become naked matter.
Architect: Alberto Campo Baeza
Location: Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid (Spain)
Client: Universidad Francisco de Vitoria
Function: Sports center and classrooms
Start of project: 2012
Building Area: 9.000 sqm
Collaborators architects: Ignacio Aguirre López, Alejandro Cervilla García, María Pérez de Camino Díez, Tommaso Campiotti, Miguel Ciria Hernández, Elena Jiménez Sánchez, Imanol Iparraguirre, María Moura
Structure: Andrés Rubio Morán
Mechanical engineer: Úrculo Ingenieros
Quantity Surveyor: Francisco Melchor Gallego
Glass consultant: José Pablo Calvo
Project Manager: Francisco Navarro, María Lamela, Francisco Armesto
Contractor: Clásica Urbana (Jesús Díaz Poblaciones, Francisco Martínez Reche, Jorge Garriga, Mónica Grau)
Photographs: © Javier Callejas