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46 PROJECT REPORT: SPORTS & LEISURE FACILITIES


“In the initial design,” he says, “all four facades were translucent. After many studies I decided to use two opaque facades (south) and two translucent facades (to the north), and the good results confirmed my calculations.


“The materials of each orientation are valued differently, so that the facades of the southern dihedral, more exposed to sunlight, are enclosed in a prefabricated panel, while those of the northern dihedral are in translucent glass.”


GLOWING The sports hall’s opaque facade panels glow at night All images © Javier Callejas


This combination of facade approaches allows for enough sun to provide generous light to the interior for the sports activities going on, without the risk of harsh reflec- tion off the many white surfaces.


White


Tying in with his famous degree of attention paid to capturing light, Baeza’s work is almost exclusively monochromatic, with his buildings painted in various shades of white. The sports pavilion is no exception, its white concrete finish and towering, near-featureless facades producing a feeling of pristine clarity. This building’s visual simplicity therefore aligns it with the architect’s previous creations, encompassing the entire design, from the walls to the white-painted steel pillars and beams.


Despite what is a somewhat austere use of concrete, Baeza produces a feeling of weightlessness in his design, furthered by way the huge glass windows are flush with the building’s profile. This is a key part of how the architect keeps such a large building from being overly imposing, and in fact makes it engaging. In Baeza’s words: “painting everything


white, with a white floor in wood, produces a very friendly space, that is capable for many different uses.”


Colouring the whole space white of course increases the luminosity of the light within, and it is in the hall that the resulting sense of expansiveness is most apparent. With all the beams and concrete panels on the inside (and the outside) whitewashed, light is reflected across the ceiling, and the whole structure – despite some parts such as ducting being left unpainted, forming an impressive aesthetic unity.


Materials


Keeping the sports pavilion and classroom complex separate, but complimentary, was no easy task. The two boxes are intended for two different programmes with very differ- ent needs, while still sharing the same space.


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Because of this, the two entities are unidenti- cal twins visually, simultaneously supporting each other, connected by a single base. Being designed with lightness in mind, the pavilion utilises huge glass panels, unlike the more closed classroom complex and lower interconnecting


building which have more conventional windows. Much of the exterior of both segments is glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC), its manufacturing method enabling construction in thin sections. Baeza’s sports pavilion provides a striking example of GFRC use in facades for modern high-quality architecture. Unlike steel, glass fibres will never rust, and GFRC is approximately 80 per cent lighter than pre-cast steel reinforced concrete cladding. It offers greater versatility due to its compressive strength and flexural proper- ties, with virtually no limit to the shape or profile that can be created, although in the case of this project, the shapes are very straightforward.


The structure of the pavilion is made of


steel, with a grid of pillars and beams on the facades and trusses which fortify the massive roof span. All of this is, of course, painted white. Wide angled beams carry the heavy load of the structure over the basement and swimming-pool areas. The entire facade facing the central square is designed to be completely perme- able, thanks to an uninterrupted horizontal band of doors and openable glass panes. The rest of the enclosure is completed with a grid of translucent glass that illuminates the interior space with uniform light.


Restraint


The guiding principle of this minimalist project appears to have been one of restraint. Both the sports pavilion and teaching complex are free of any extraneous embellishments, and as has been stated, do not impinge on the scale of the other buildings on the campus.


Campo Baeza himself reportedly fends off any assertions that light is some kind of repeated refrain that he employs as an architect. He argues instead that light is a universal theme, inherent to architecture itself and which must form a key part of every project, and of which no one can claim agency over.


Whether or not light should be seen as his trademark, one thing is clear, that Campo Baeza has demonstrated a highly thoughtful approach to capturing it, and this box of light will illuminate sports and learning at this university in the future. 


ADF JANUARY 2018


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