68 Social Housing by Magén Arquitectos


Spanish office Magén Arquitectos have completed a social housing project in Zaragoza, Spain.

Called 68 Social Housing, the long four-storey building is staggered in three sections to allow for the sloping site.

Situated on the edge of the city, the north facade has smaller windows while terraces on the south side overlook an open area.

Mobile aluminium panels can be positioned to provide shade for the apartments in summer or admit more light in the winter.

Photographs are by Roland Halbe

Here's some text from Magén Arquitectos:



The project develops a residential programme for social housing units of different types and surface areas, in a longitudinal building with ground floor plus three storeys, staggered in three sections to adapt to the steep slope of the location.

The situation of the site, on the southern limit between the built-up area of the city and open landscape, and the longitudinal dimensions of the building form a piece on the edge of the city that responds in a different manner to the obvious differences in the conditions of the surrounding area. The orientation of the building supports the idea of contrast between the north facing closed and massive exterior, and the south facing, broken up and open interior, and the views.

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The housing units participate of this dual orientation, with the bedrooms overlooking the street, to the north, and the daytime rooms, living rooms and kitchens, facing the interior garden space, to the south. The services strip occupies a central position that permits dual traffic around it, as well as extending the line of sight on the inside of the home, affording a greater impression of amplitude for its reduced surface area.

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On the outside, the building has a closed, opaque configuration, in an attempt to adapt and discretely integrate into the immediate surroundings –a group of social homes from the sixties. The outer façades follow regulatory alignments and are configured based on the window openings and their repetition in series. These enclosures are built with white brick and a base on the ground floor of prefabricated concrete panels, which solve the encounter of the building with the steep slope of the pavement and extend through the access porches to the interior.

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At the points where the building is reduced in height to adapt to the slope and, at the end of the block, there are some spacious access porches or hallways, which connect the public highway to the interior garden space, where the accesses to the homes are located. This intermediate interior space, an area of access, meeting and connection, creates a sequence between the public and the private space. The differences in levels, both in the accesses and in the interior patio, given the slope of the land, are solved by inclining planes with a gentle slope and access ramps to the front doors.

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Over the interior space, the building is characterised by a series of broken up sections of wall defined by a polygon. An undressed structure of slabs and concrete screens configure an intermediate space that connects the homes to the exterior, in front of the daytime rooms. The enclosures of these spaces and the doors, whose volumes on the ground floor indicate the accesses, are characterised by a finish in single-layer black stone.

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The different guidelines of the façade and the variable positions of the sliding aluminium slat panels, depending on their possible use in front of the kitchen or living room, provide the façade with movement and a changing aspect throughout the day.

The configuration of the building favours good thermal performance: the closed and massive north façade insulates from the environmental noise and provide thermal inertia, whilst, to the south, the aluminium slats, the slabs of the terraces and the deciduous leaved trees bathe the homes with sun in winter and protect them from it in summer.

Posted on Tuesday December 22nd 2009 at 12:41 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • eb nyc

    Very nice. Simple. Humane 4 levels, balconies. All good. Nothing else is needed.
    My focus is on something else though: The interior plan. They used a great trick to make a small apartmemt better: A circular corridor. I lived in an apartment like that. Best experience!

  • Big.b

    Nice; but it seems like a naive copy of Carlos Ferrater building!

  • angry catalan

    Eb nyc: they lifted the “usable corridor” idea from Coderch’s military apartments in Barceloneta, quite possibly through Ferrater’s apartments in Lesseps and Poblenou, from which they also lift the elevation without wholly implementing the “zig zag plan” thing .

  • eb nyc

    I am sitting at the other end of the world, who am I to be interested who is stealing what somehwere in regional Spain? Everybody is using others ideas today, to various degrees.

    An interior apartment plan I do not regard as a copyright issue. What works, works. Use it. We have choices today, one of the few truly good things in today’s world I think, so let’s make best use of it.

    Let’s build more of these designs, not just in Spain!

  • klein

    According to the website, the building was finished in 2006, so it´s earlier than Ferrater´s one.

  • I Can Has Cheeseburger

    If only the social housing in UK looks half as good! Time to move!

  • Rade_Bgd_RS

    Very nice! Good distribution inside the flats, but when you have only 2 app/communication core, it does not look to social to me!

  • TheRedTide

    Herzog & de Meuron’s Rue des Suisses building did the same thing but better, IMO.

  • angry catalan

    eb nyc: Of course plagiarism is good in architecture. But what I’m pointing out is: it’s good to know about where ideas come from. Because this isn’t a particularly good implementation of the Barceloneta zig-zag plan. Why does the zig-zag plan become visible in the façade but not anywhere else? Why does the elevation look like Ferrater’s building when there’s no street interference to protect the flats from? Why use Coderch’s idea when the flats are reasonably big compared to those in Barceloneta?

    In fact, I find it extremely shocking that you don’t know about Coderch’s building, as it has been very influential (and Coderch was a member of Team X for a time so I’m not sure if it matters whether you’re in New York or not… plus you should know about everything if everyone is using everyone’s ideas.) Just in case you’re still lost, Coderch’s apartments were built 40 years ago, so it’s not really a case of plagiarism but a case of misreading a master.

  • Very nice, simple and clean… Less is More!

  • hell of a lot of elevators for a social housing complex ;o)

    was always thinking social housing is all about good price performance ratio?