Architects: Ekain Jiménez Valencia + Patxi Lapetra Iriarte
Location: Navarra, Spain
Area: 300 sqm
Photographs: Berta Buzunariz, Ekain Jiménez Valencia
Construction: Fco. Javier Vivar Tomé
Client: Ayuntamiento del Valle de Allín
Construction Company: Excavaciones Fermín Osés, SL
The project originates from a compact and defined volume that brings together the entire program in two levels of 150 square meters each. The main objective is to organize the program optimizing its functionality without design concessions that hinder the clarity of uses. The ground floor covers the most public uses of the program (administration and public service area, offices, multipurpose room and restrooms). On the first floor are the plenary hall and archive, as well as restrooms.
The elements that define the interior space are exclusively limited to meet the requirements of functionality and comfort, avoiding any unfortunate idiosyncratic actions, based on the “law of least effort”.
Similarly, the exterior is intended to be a reflection of that fact, placing value on the representativeness of the building, avoiding activities beyond the strictly necessary: the container is thought of as a small concrete box, whose striated texture gives the building a certain domestic character. The number of openings has been reduced to a minimum, leading to the opposition of wall/opening in each of the facades.
Thus, what is a simple and abstract volume at first, becomes an inhabited object through the combination of openings and the striated treatment.
On the main facade, this condition of “representative opening” acquires a certain entity: the public access is combined with the balcony that represents local power in a single opening, thereby focusing the idea of “public power” of this type of buildings. Also, the apparent symmetry of the balcony and the access is subtly dislocated, avoiding a centrality that would lead to excessively redundant readings.
It is therefore a town hall that arises from a strong and defined volume, but whose composition gradually reduces rigidities without reaching an excessive domesticity, whose small size helps its reading, and where the dislocation of symmetry gives the building some ambiguity which removes us from the idea of unique power.
The presence of the health center also affects the design of the proposal, in terms of its location on the plot. The orientation of the health center is respected above all, so that the town hall becomes part of the whole. The access to the town hall is marked by the alignments of the health center, so that there is a frontal approach to the building from the outside. Both buildings form a new place with clearly civic characteristics, regardless of the size of the project. And this new place, this plot, serves not only as a basis for these buildings, but also as a new small public area for the citizens.
Allín Valley Town Hall / Ekain Jiménez Valencia + Patxi Lapetra Iriarte originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 14 May 2013.
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