Foreign Office Architects (FOA)

Social Housing . Carabanchel

photos: archdaily . Francisco Andeyro Garcia . Alejandro Garcia Gonzalez

Operating within a severely limited budget, the Carabanchel Social Housing project comprises 100 social housing units
on the outskirts of Madrid. The development, within a regeneration area, is bounded by a new urban park on the west and by similar housing blocks on the north, east and south. Regulations set the number of units and the percentages of every size. The maximum height was also a constraint, but not the alignment within the rectangular plot.
Given the adjacency to a future urban park and the North-South orientation of the site, our proposal is to compact the volume within the given height in order to provide a private garden for the units on the eastern side and to produce double aspect units facing both gardens. In order to achieve this, the units became elongated “tubes” that connect both façades. Thanks to the compactness of the block, we succeeded in providing fully glazed façades for all the exterior surfaces.





photos: Sergio Padura


The facades have been lined with a 1.5m wide terrace which provides a semi-exterior buffer space, enclosed by bamboo screens mounted on folding frames. The screens protect the glazed surfaces from the strong East-West solar exposure, and are able to open to the side gardens when desired.
Our target was to provide the maximum amount of space, flexibility and quality to the residences, and to erase the visibility of the units and their differences by creating a single volume with a homogeneous skin which is able to incorporate a gradation of possibilities. The primary architectural effect of the building is not dependent on the architect’s vision, but is an effect of the inhabitants’ choices, as if the façade was a register at any given moment of a cumulative effect of individuals’ choices.
In terms of sustainability, the building’s bamboo shutters allow in natural light and ventilation, and can be adjusted by residents reducing the need for a centralised conditioning system. Further green strategies are a grassy plinth used to conceal the parking garage and take up the level changes around the building as well as rooftop solar panels for water heating and wind chimneys to ventilate internal bathrooms and kitchens.








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