Architecture is directly linked and interrelated to the concept of routine. We cohabitate with and within it every day, every hour and from this coexistence appear attachments and detachments. Normally, we wake up in the same place, we go to work in one or several locations, and to complete this habitual circle we shelter ourselves at home.
Routine is a beautiful concept, which creates little familiarities in the meetings between ourselves and spaces, in the “here and there.” These are small winks which only the person living in a place or who visits it daily can notice, like the scene from Amélie Poulain, in which she describes the hustle and bustle one morning, whilst helping her blind neighbour to cross the road.
Our spaces of routine, be they personal or collective, sedentary or transitory, accumulate infinite interactions, which mean that sometimes we ask ourselves:
“how many times will I pass through here?”
Let us imagine designing a space then, which is mainly dedicated to transit, to constant and cyclical movement of people in their daily endeavours. Today we are taking a look at the Benidorm Station project, developed by HULOT arch. Studio.
This team already carries implicitly in its name the attraction to this magic of the routine of places and trips made via them.
“Hulot is the name of the main character in the film ‘Mon Oncle’. We identify totally with the way this person views life; it’s the connector between the real and the sophisticated life, between the lively neighbourhood and the hostile mansion. Every day he takes the same route to go from one world to another when he goes to meet his nephew and he doesn’t always understand what is occurring on the other side. For us the secret is to know how to follow this path. Tati, the film director, lover of beauty and critic of the useless, makes us reflect on the true mission of architecture.”
The project, which is based upon the adaptation of the old station building to make it suitable for current times, seems to resolve itself in this trio: understanding the path, getting rid of the useless, looking for beauty. All of this executed with measure and asceticism, but at the same time creating a noticeable and original building, which is required by infrastructure of this kind.
“Approximately a year ago the opportunity arose to work on this singular 60s building. Its rectangular floor and metallic structure were more reminiscent of an industrial construction than of an official train station. When we embarked on the redesigning of the building, whilst also adapting it to the stringent standards in terms of transport, accessibility and technical construction codes, we saw the possibility of using current constructive solutions to improve its urban image, as well as the experience of the users,”
comment Estela and Pedro, directors of the HULOT arch. Studio.
The experience of the users is directly linked to the plan allocated to each area. In this way, the distinct uses were categorised into zones, according to their private or public role. In the public zone, the hall is situated like an umbrella space between the platforms, the street access, the cafe and the waiting area, whilst in the more private area the work spaces and toilets are located. As such, the required plan included the intervention in the station building, the main hall, the new entrance, the waiting room, the ticket desks, offices, toilets and maintenance areas. The desired plan was met by studying in advance which elements and zones of the old station were crucial in the identity of the building and its interaction with the users, but marked by this duality between the two routines of the station: that of the travellers and that of the workers.
“This initial reflection led us to keep the singularity of the roof, resize the existing gaps in the façade and get rid of parts of the exterior enclosure in order for light permeate all of the spaces. With the resizing of the gaps, we were able to highlight the entrance, since it blurred into the other spaces.”
This intervention within the elements in order to redesign the construction on the basis of a projected personality, is supported by the choice of material which reinforces this character.
“The brick of the main façade was replaced with translucent polycarbonate strips which extend to the platforms, ensuring a holistic interpretation of the building. Meanwhile, the rest of the volume was covered with a perforated aluminium sheet skin, producing a luminous effect of full and empty. In this way, the Hall is an airy, light-filled space, as much at night as during the day, thanks to an installation of intersecting, linear lights which create a dynamic composition.”
Thus, the renovated station is understood as a luminous space, bustling and attractive like the nocturnal dance between a moth and a light. Each element within it, through colour, texture and the grades of transparency is reconfigured: it is the same building, but a different place. These details define the interactions of its users, by creating the visual references of their daily routine. And the details, as affirmed by Charles Eames, are not the details:
“the details are design.”
In the case of Hulot, as their motto states,
“Design should be inclusive of and accessible to every budget. Architecture should solve problems, not just be pure exhibitionism. Spaces should invite people to live in them. The aesthetic should serve a purpose, in which the creative, beautiful and functional become one.”
Without a doubt, this building is proof of this.
Work: Benidorm Station
Authores: HULOT arch. Studio (Estela Sanchís Part, Pedro Palencia)
Location: Benidorm, España
Area: 339,80 m2
Object: Rehabilitation of the main building of the Benidorm station
Other agents: Engineering Cota a cota ingeniería// Building company: UTE TECSA + CHM// Client: FGV
Collaborators: Cota a cota ingeniería
Suppliers: Carpentry: Technal // Perforated aluminum sheet: Italfilm // Polycarbonate: Ironlux Lift // Hidden frames system: Kubik System// Ambients iluminación
Photography: Milena Villalba
Text: Ana Asensio