The project of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China is the result of the first prize won by Cervera and Pioz in a competition hold in Spain. The embassy complex consists of several buildings used for different purposes: a building for banquets, receptions and events held under protocol, and a set of residential units and common spaces for relaxation, used only by the embassy staff. Besides that a large car park and outer areas were required. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China is located in Madrid, where calle Arturo Soria nº 111 meets calle Duque de Tamames. The total plot area is 3085.58 m².
The challenge was to combine the avant-garde architecture with the reinterpretation of some traditional Chinese values. Cervera & Pioz decided to explore this reinterpretation of the tradition through the concept of landscape. The way in which oriental cultures relates to Nature is different, the way western cultures do. So, the protagonist role of nature in the project was a key issue and hence landscaping became a crucial part of the design. But the question was how to deal with the landscaping in a tight urban plot where the construction footprint made available sparse areas for the gardening. The spatial constraints made it unfeasible to place the landscape in a horizontal extension. Hence the solution came through the generation of a vertical landscape.
There are two residential buildings for the accommodation of embassy staff. Both buildings contain basically the same type of housing unit. These buildings are “wrapped” in a screen structure that will be covered with vegetation. A white exposed concrete structure formed by columns and beams is placed around the apartment buildings. This structure also acts as the vertical landscaping feature for the building in an interesting way in which colours and fragrance brings liveliness and vibrancy. Thus, it also acts as a visual screen for the private spaces.
In addition to the visual screen, they also act as the climatic control element for the building, making it sustainable. The kind of vegetation selected allows the winter sun to penetrate inside the apartments, always looking for the right bioclimatic conditions. The screens are figured circular meanwhile the residential buildings are quadrangular or rectilinear. With this we can play with the typical geometry of squares and circles, quaint common in the traditional Chinese architecture bringing another connection to the Chinese values. But, at the same time, we fulfil the regulations of the City Hall that demand that all building activity must lie within 30 metres diameter.
The different residential units are protected from the external interferences but at the same time are open to the views and to the light coming in. The terrain at the site is not flat. On the contrary, there is a steep slope running from the main street, Arturo Soria, to the lower part. The solution proposed in the design takes advantage of the steep slope to create three terraced areas, thus enabling zones to be dedicated to different uses. The top of the plot is the area closest to street Arturo Soria and therefore the naturally highlighted position. This is where the Banquet Building is located, as the most representative construction.
At the height approximately at the middle level of the plot along the lateral street, is the ground floor of the residential buildings, plus the main garden areas, outdoor spaces and the swimming pool. The Banquet Building’s floor plan is approximately rectangular, and the building is conceived as having two floors of high ceilings, with public areas and service areas. This building is wrapped in a folded glass façade that gives it a sense of total transparency. Surrounding the facade, is displayed a screen of 11 m high standing stainless steel columns that give the building a sense of classicism and a feeling of “formality” according to the function of the space. Other layers of columns are placed in the interior space, helping to the monumentality of the construction. The ceiling of the building is conceived like the waves of a sea. So, wooden curve panels form a dynamic horizontal upper plan that contributes to the feeling of grandeur. The Reception Building is protected of the strong impact of summer sun through insulation material layers displayed in the south-west facade and in the top of the construction, generating a ventilated roof.
The combination of the different buildings of the complex generates a rich and dynamic spatial approach that produces changing perception of the architecture. This permanent variation enriches the design and allows the enjoyment of the urban area. The complex is closed by a perimeter wall with a beautiful design that evokes some Chinese patterns.
- The exterior facade of the housing buildings is considered as a ventilating element, it works for better climate control as well as acts as noise insulation.
– Folded facade as well as the placement of automatic louvers controls the solar radiation in the Banquet Building.
– The design is based on cross ventilation.
– The study of the sun path helped us to prevent the overlapping of the building shadows, thus making it energy efficient.
Project: 2000-2002 Construction works: June 2010-June 2012 Team: José Enrique García Domínguez, Basilio Aguado Daganzo, Cristina Álvarez Vicente, Abraham Fernández García, Rosana Casas Sansó Structural Engineer: Helda Felicia Calle Facilities Engineer: Edison Ingeniería Building Company: CZICC Areas:
Plot: 2050,5 m² Built up area: 3920,72 m²