In what way can architect investigate freely with ideas that re-define the domestic environment? There exists the client ready to carry out such experiments?
The translucent house, of Alfons Soldevila. The construction of an experimental house
Alfons Soldevila, project teacher of the Technical Top School of Architecture of Barcelona, has examined the topic of the housing, proposing a series of debates in class with his students, who finished materializing in the construction of a house to scale 1:1 in the middle of the campus. They were called it the Translucent House and it was, from 1996 until 2002, when it had to yield his space to a new library, a center of meeting of students and teachers. It was a question of experimenting with a new type of housing realized from a new material of construction. Fact with polycarbonate, the light would filter across his soils, walls and ceilings, a translucent quality that would determine the design and his construction.
The university like laboratory
Undoubtedly the university is an ideal place for cultural explorations and of the way like the men they relate between yes and his environment. It is a place where the investigation compromised with the contemporaneousness is praised and where the doubt forms a part of to construct of the history. With this vocation, Alfons Soldevila raised the project to re-define the housing, analyzing, questioning and verifying in the classroom and in the workshop, before beginning his construction.
The first phase consisted of realizing a model to scale 1:10, in order to verify his structure and to study a sequence of his assembly that was not needing any derrick. The framework would rise of form similar to the traditional American structure known like balloom-frame, which can be lifted by a person helped by a tractel.
Consecutivly there was constructed the structure of pipes of stainless steel, with a section 80x80mm and 30mm of shirt. For the supports of the foundation, which also they wanted to execute with a translucent material, there were realized manometers of concrete and glass recycled instead of sand. The result was showing that his mechanical capacity was minor to that of the traditional concrete but the sufficient thing for a building of ten tons. On these supports, separated every two meters, there were raising the porticoes, which were got in touch by other profiles of 80x80x3mm and which were acting like of bands perimetrales. The structure of the wrought ones realized with profiles of 80x80x2mm that, like separated joists 40cm, they were resting on the bands. His fixation was realized by structural silicone, for what they might dismount easily with a cleaver.
Finally, the metallic structure was closed with plates extrusionadas of polycarbonate, used so much in the roof, walls, ceilings, soils, ramps and steps. Also silicone was used in all his unions to avoid opaque elements and to facilitate the disassembly or substitution.
Polycarbonate as material of construction
On having investigated the composition of the polycarbonate, the students valued the big advantages of this organic product for the construction. To his chemical inertia that was making it immune to the acids, bases and atmospheric agents, his high resistance is added to the break and the deterioration, has good elasticity and can bear several treatments including the dyeing color. Inside the thermoplastic products, he presents good behavior before the fire since it is autoextinguishable. Additional, the polycarbonate is a material that it might compete with the glass since it offers the optical only clarity of traslucidez. This factor played a decisive paper in the choice of the material since so much the form curls of the roof as the fronts of the house they were allowing a maximum utilization of the solar light, the heat and the ventilation. On the other hand, the plates of polycarbonate have the disadvantage of being sensitive to the beams UV, for what they yellow to the exhibition of the Sun. The solution to this reaction consisted of placing a movie adhered to the surface to protect her from the Sun. This movie to modify end of the surface with different plots and colors depending on his inhabitants.
Experiencing the interior
In order that the natural light was flowing without obstacles, the distribution of the house would have to be solved without nothing places opposite to the translucent walls. The only opaque rooms, the kitchen and the baths, they arranged as pieces of furniture. One did not also install electrical light inside the house, to liberate the housing of facilities and switches. In his place, when it gets dark, the lights placed out of the house are ignited by remote control.
For a maximum benefit of the natural light and to minimize the shades, the ideal furniture are those that touch neither the walls nor the soils. They would have to be floating. Consistently the students experimented with the design of furniture of polycarbonate – chairs and hammocks that are swung, tables that hang, translucent cupboards and booths that are raised of the soil. Even the carpets or the soles of the shoes had to be rethought, this time from below. Other pupils experimented with games of cleanliness that were including the washing-down of the house with a manguerazo, something possible to the being the cupboards of polycarbonate with closing zipper.
Though the Translucent House does not exist today his value remains, not only in the students who took part in the experiment, but also in the curriculum of the university. The technology, the materials and his possibilities are in continuous evolution though they join slowly company. The investigation needs to play first an essential paper in the shape of education to be able to learn of his achievements, mistakes and the benefit of the doubt.
Halldóra Arnardóttir + Javier Sánchez Merina
doctor in history of the art. doctor architect
Murcia. september 2013
Javier Sánchez Merina es Profesor Titular en la Universidad de Alicante. Anteriormente enseñó en Kingston University London y Carleton University en Ottawa. Sus clases, textos y obra construida buscan establecer relaciones entre la docencia, la investigación y la profesión. En la actualidad participa en el Proyecto de Investigación Europeo sobre Arquitectura Terapéutica.
Halldóra Arnardóttir. Doctora, (The Bartlett, UC London 1999 – homologación UMU 2007), Colaboradora con el Observatorio de Diseño y Arquitectura de Murcia (2008-10), acreditación de la ANECA como Ayudante Doctor (2012) y en la actualidad Coordinadora de Arte y Cultura como Terapia (HUVA) en colaboración con UMU, Profesora Ayudante Doctor (UCAM) y Azrieli Visiting Critic en Carleton University (Ottawa 2012).