2022

MCHAP

Studios Building

Diego Arraigada Arquitectos

Rosario, Argentina

July 2020

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Diego Arraigada

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Pablo Gamba, Mercedes Paz, Victoria Militello, Delfina Castagnino, Florencia Meucci, Juan Gabriel Porrini, Mariangeles Stroppiana, Cecilia Baldovino

CLIENT

Condominio Fernando Arraigada y otros

PHOTOGRAPHER

Manuel Cucurell, Federico Cairoli

OBJECTIVE

The building is part of a city densification phenomena that has been taking place for decades, where private developers build housing and office spaces to meet the needs of a growing urban population. Its main objective was to develop the potential of the lot in this regard.
By diving the plot into two bays in plan, eight spaces are layered vertically in four levels. Plan and section are then optimized, and each bay is displaced vertically in half-levels in order to use the landings of the stairs as entrance to the units. The character and size of the units admit that they can be used both as small living or working studios. Each unit has a main room with two big apertures placed against the ceiling and at the corners of the interior space, creating a diagonal tension. A frame window is placed towards the side and a pocket window is located towards the front, to provide light and ventilation. On the other side of the unit, circulation, storage space, air conditioning, bathroom and kitchen are all organized by an efficient and compact piece of built in furniture, which provides a visually clean background when closed. The resulting main room is a homogenous empty space capable of a diverse arrangement of furniture and uses.
The terrace becomes the common courtyard of the units: it is literally an outdoor patio stacked on the top of the studio spaces.

CONTEXT

The city of Rosario is characterized by a regular grid of square blocks, where mostly one or two-story houses and mid-rise buildings occupy narrow plots and share party walls. Due to old building regulations, all party walls must be made out of solid bricks, since this was and continuous to be the most widespread and available material in the region.
The ever changing urban landscape is therefore dotted by the emergence of tall brick party walls in every direction, which most of the times are left exposed due to the optimal way they perform and weather in this climate. The project dialogues with this dynamic context and nourishes from it.
The volume of the building results from the direct vertical extrusion of a small urban lot with passages on each side that create two narrow buffer spaces between the building and its current and future neighbors. Instead of having the classical distinction between privileged facades and underprivileged party walls, this differentiation is erased and all visible faces are treated with the same hierarchy.
An indentation at the ground floor carefully relates the building to its old neighbor and organizes the main entrances.

PERFORMANCE

The exterior finishing of the volume relates to the context of the city, using common artisan solid bricks -the most widespread and inexpensive of the market- as the main material. However, by manually splitting them in half and exposing the broken surface towards the exterior the traditional brick walls are re-signified, making their interior composition visible and using their unevenness as a feature.
This material decision gives the building an expressiveness that comes from the different orange, red and brown tones of the actual inner baking of the bricks, and from the rough imperfect texture that makes evident its human construction. The outcome is at the same time familiar and new, well-known and strange.
At the terrace level the walls continue upwards until they block the city views and enclose a quiet and secluded space, open to the sky, that resembles the traditional courts of the old one or two-story houses of the city. The high porosity of the broken bricks absorbs most of the urban noise. A roof garden re-establishes some of the original plants that used to grow in the former vacant lot.