Elcano Housing Block by FRPO

Rotating concrete shutters enliven facade of housing block in Madrid

Openable concrete panels and sun-shading blinds add dynamism to the otherwise austere facades of the Elcano housing block by Madrid-based practice FRPO.

The block, which contains 13 apartments, has been built close to the centre of Madrid between two distinct areas. To the north, the main facade faces a busy road and a series of industrial buildings, and to the south, balconies now overlook a quiet garden space and pool.

Elcano Housing Block by FRPO

"Regulations restricted the building to a 12 metres depth, which allowed for an area occupied by a garden and pool, something not very common in the neighbourhood that gave a unique quality to these developments," explained FRPO.

The district, previously occupied primarily by industrial buildings and workshops, is rapidly being transformed into housing, and the studio sought to reference this history with their design for the new housing block.

Elcano Housing Block by FRPO

The north facade was built using prefabricated glass reinforced concrete panels, which can be rotated to reveal the aligned windows behind, allowing light into the interiors while simultaneously providing sun-shading.

The quieter southern facade was assembled from prefabricated metal frame elements, creating a grid of small balconies that can be closed-off from direct sunlight using the external roller-blind sunshades.

Elcano Housing Block by FRPO

At the block's lower levels, deep, yellow-lined cuts have been made through the form that draw light into the communal access areas and two levels of underground parking.

"The volume is drilled with two double and triple height gaps adjusting the maximum built surface: a car and pedestrian passage resembling the old industrial constructions in the area, and a void in the facade that allows the natural ventilation of the garage," said the architecture studio.

Elcano Housing Block by FRPO

Where these areas have been hollowed out of the building's sections, apartments have been pushed back to face the internal courtyard rather than the street.

Inside, polished concrete floors, drywall partitions and floor-to-ceiling thresholds between rooms have created bright, open apartments.

Elcano Housing Block by FRPO

"The space is fluid, connecting corridors and kitchens with living areas through large sliding doors,"  the studio continued.

FRPO was founded in 2008 by Fernando Rodriguez and Pablo Oriel. Previous projects include a concrete pool pavilion in a forest on the outskirts of Madrid, and MO House, a home in a forest split into different forms clustered around the trees.

Photography is by Imagen Subliminal.


Project credits:

Architecture: FRPO Rodriguez & Oriol
Project leaders: Pablo Oriol and Fernando Rodríguez
Collaborators: Fran Díaz, Ricardo González, Esther Ibáñez, Matilde Lorenzo, Almudena Navas and Julia Burón
Consultants: Antonio Lorenzo, David Marcos, Pablo Urbano, Pablo Matilla and Grupo AXIOM

More images and plans

Ground floor plan of Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Ground floor plan
Typical floor plan of Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Typical floor plan
Attic floor plan of Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Attic floor plan
Section facing east of Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Section facing east
Section facing west of Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Section facing west
Northern facade shutter fixing technical construction detail of Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Shutter construction detail on the northern facade
Exploded concept axonometric of Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Exploded concept axonometric drawing
Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Elcano Housing Block by FRPO
Elcano Housing Block by FRPO