Primary school by Carlos Pereda Iglesias
and Óscar Pérez Silanes


Spanish architects Carlos Pereda Iglesias and Óscar Pérez Silanes have competed a glass and red brick primary school in Pamplona, Spain.

The building forms an extension to an education centre originally built in 1969 and now comprising five buildings.

The ground floor contains a hall, chapel and auditorium, while classrooms on the upper storey are set back along a glazed corridor.

A dining hall and toilets are located in the basement.

More about the architects on Dezeen:

García Miguélez Jewelers (March 2010)
Offices of a bank founded by architects for architects in Pamplona (February 2010)
Refurbished apartment in Pamplona (November 2009)
Dining hall and kitchen for a gastronomic society (October 2009)

Photographs are by César San Millán.

The information below is from the architects:

Primary school

The building belongs to an Educational Center which is being extended as the new requirements came up. The whole centre consists of five buildings, all them are set for scholar use. From 1969 until now new volumes are being added to the original building without having any global plan, the only common property, is the use of red brick as global constructive line.

It should be highlighted Rafael Echaide’s contribution in the late seventies, a building for administrative uses with a number of gestures that bring a meaning to it and give a characteristic identity within the complex.

In 2000 Primary School program started, accommodated in a small building and always using the same material, nowadays that building has become kindergarten, so the new one that has been ordered to us will be used to house the Primary School.

The extension of an existing building always brings with many constraints that have to be solved as well as functional requirements that prearrange a formal solution; besides as far as the few materials used allowed as positive feature the uniqueness of the design of a fact that correspond to certain historic milestone, with its constructive consequences and their predetermined models, it has been sought with the new extension to answer with similar arguments and a different interpretation , since our time has not stopped.

The continuous use of the material follows the style of Chantrea suburb, and its colour, red ceramic as a big mass inside the school.

On the other hand the small original volume, complete in itself, with a well defined character of an independent object, a priori, it seems to repel the creation of a new volume next to it, so continuing visually the volumes, changing the planes, and separating from them could differentiate the new extension and integrate it on the existing one without being either repelled or crudely “stuck”.

Those references are the ones that form the physical and conceptual scope of the project. The design is intended to actually be held by the basic criteria of economy and constructive approach, using a formal language that, in terms of its simplicity, clarity and abstraction, shows at the same time their direct dependence on functional advantages and the maximum adaptation capacity according the different site conditions.

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The dimensions of the project coming from the existing building give the heights and the possibility of creating a large empty space at the ground level, free of use which in addition will allow the volume to "float" against the volume marked by the socket which owns the existing building; besides this decision of freeing the ground level space, the upper levels move one to another thus dividing the façade giving it lightness again in contrast with the existing one and giving value to the most meaningful space of the project which corresponds to the frontal concrete protruding which contains the chapel.

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The whole light surface is protected by a sliding railing all along its length in the same manner as the one which substitutes on the upper level of the existing level. In the other hand, the material and volumetric response of the yard and the sport area are completely different.

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It’s necessary to capture light from the opening space looking to the south while keeping the spaces privacy, a U-glass main enclosure solution is selected to achieve it, blended with a protruding ceramic volume quite low in comparison with the height of the yard which breaks the vitreous plan and contains the offices, reception rooms, toilets, etc. and lighting and ventilation zones of those small spaces.

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Finally to end this glass plane and as a liaison with the existing building the ramp volume is generated, parallel to the existing classrooms, made of brick, solid and at the same time sensitive with regard to the existing brick plane which gives additional value on it. In addition this protruding element creates a protection arcade which joins the plane with the floor as answer to the existing plane at the opposite side of the cover yard at the sport area.

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The building is developed in two levels and basement. Much of the formal and functional development of it is determined by the condition of being an extension of the existing one. Therefore, the access comes from the existing building and requires a notable extension of it; in the area where the administrative an meeting offices were; those are eliminated, the lighting and ventilation yard of the existing building is occupied and is communicated with the extension.

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Obviously the communications are marked by this side access to a building with an important lineal component; the hall itself occupies partially the ground floor; space which connects and articulates the general zones. It is a referent space in the building, panelled with wood where all the spaces meet. In the rest of the ground floor are the chapel and auditorium as well as the classroom for the youngest children. Another’s exempted volumes are the offices and lighting yards of those.

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The higher level is moved to the back creating the access to the rest of the classrooms placed longitudinally with a double height along the building which gives the inside with a specific character. Also it is communicated with the existing building by a lattice bridge. In the basement floor is generated a covered courtyard with a red brick volume where dining room and toilets are located.

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Building volumes as it has been previously mentioned are generated from the cross section of it: a ground floor free of contain, first level with a prominent concrete volume, where the chapel is located, with a brick façade corresponding with the building playground and the highest level moved backwards from the first level.

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All volumes generated on brick, rear façade finished in galvanized perforated. The communication ramp is used strategically to delimit volumetrically the new intervention and to distinguish it from the existing building and the dining room volume. Those are the two presentations of the building : one to the school playground in a linear form with a restrained scale and marked volumetric with brick and glass to the volume of the ramp as a boundary while face to the street the building shows gradual form, floating on the supports of the arcade with a perforated metal skin that sifts the views and protects the classroom.

Total area is 2.032m_ with an arcade of 795 m_.

Project Information

Project: Primary school.
Location: Cintruénigo Street| Pamplona | Spain
Rigger: Ignacio Visiers _ Javier Urdaci
Client: Irabia Foundation
Budget: 2.300.000 E
Area (m2): 2429,50 m2 built
Photograher: César San Millán

Posted on Thursday April 1st 2010 at 12:31 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • yuck. Don’t let this be copied in America, please…Just awful. It reminds me of my dreary suburban elementary school, only MORE institutional and poultry plant like.
    Hate it.

  • bebo

    i miss this kind of architecture…

  • G

    Simple, beautiful. Great stuff.

  • EricK

    Why are the corridors filled with natural light but the classrooms appear to have no windows or natural light?

  • gab xiao

    it’s an elegant, maybe budget-restraint building. no gimmicks about it.

    Bill, I wish American architects/developers will grasp the spatial clarity existing in this building.

  • LL

    its look like a new interpretation of a prison building. no daylight, no green in the schoolyard and long cold corridors.

  • Maybe I’m childish in my outlook, but it reminds me precisely of a school I went to in New England. Buildings for children should have ornamentation and visual interest, not large intimidating masses of concrete and undifferentiated brick that I see in some of these images (especially the last photograph). To my frames of reference, it looks from the outside like a very nice manufacturing plant, perhaps a Wonderbread bakery, but not an inspirational place of learning I would rush to every morning.

  • @luc

    i agree Bill, if only they had used some of that colour in their drawings in the actual building …?

  • michelalano

    While it is an elegant building, with lots of heavy elements, simple detailing, datum, and all that architectural babble, you should consider who is going to use the building: kids under 10. No matter how much you want to force it, kids aren’t going to understand or appreciate the architectural elegance of their building, especially if it seems cramped and institutional.

    I like this building, but while the architects are patting each-other on the back, it may not be the most inviting and comfortable place for young children.

  • john b. mayer

    Bill, I don’t know if you’re an architect but I really hope you aren’t. Your comments appear to be more of a guy that thinks himself cool and trendy and wants to comment on design webs than of a person that really works on design. This type of building is what architects should do instead of doing spectacular, huge, impressive and completely useless buildings.

    We should design buildings according to it’s necessities. I would’ve loved to be raised in a school like this one.

    Nowadays architects are putting so many effort in the “my building has to be the rarest and more spectacular of all” that they are forgetting that we create buildings for people to live in, not for photographers to take pictures of them (see hadid, calatrava,etc.)

    So, in my opinion, this building is a perfect example of what architecture should be, and I strongly thank this architects for doing buildings like this one.

  • Cicero

    Nicely done. Humble and robust. We need more such projects.

  • Travis

    Primary school students & teachers of Pamplona, Spain,
    Feel free to cover every square metre of your school/fortress/prison with richly coloured paint & paper. Architecture is to be critiqued & pushed forward, not venerated. You owe this building no special respect, and you can only make it better by making it your own.

    John Mayer,
    Unintentional hilarity doesn’t get any more hilarious than your misguided rant and banal pop music.

    Fantastic work all around!

  • I never claimed to be a designer or an architect, nor am I trying to be cool. But why is it facile to want schools to be self-evidently appreciable in their beauty to those under ten, or those morons like myself who aren’t designers?

  • Molly

    The building is cold. It may look nice and simple in the photos, but in know way does it present itself as a primary school. It looks like all the children ran out to the, also lifeless, asphalt playground to escape the building. I’m pretty sure anyone can see that.

  • Salum

    Look like a modern cage.

  • Bridget

    bahaha J. Mayer and Travis you guys are HILARIOUS