Villa Urània in Barcelona, continuing on the path towards urban sustainability
"Winning the Green Solution Awards in Spain makes us proud and gives us the strength to continue on the path towards urban sustainability," says architect Pasqual Bendicho
Vil·la Urània in Barcelona, designed by SUMO Arquitectes, won the third prize in the international final of the Green Solutions Awards 2017 in the Energy & Temperate Climates category and was also winner in the Smart Building category in the national awards. The architect Pasqual Bendicho presents this award-winning building and its solutions, and emphasises the importance of sustainable values and environmental responsibility in the construction sector.
In the field of construction, what main characteristics and values define SUMO Arquitectes?
SUMO Arquitectes is an architecture firm that develops public and private projects at different scales. Sustainability, energy efficiency, and environmental and social responsibility are values that are part of our daily work.
So let us start at the beginning, how did the project come about and why did you choose a sustainable initiative?
For us sustainability is an inherent concept in architecture, it is not an objective, but the path to follow. The project was born from the conjunction of highly powerful variables: a very narrow lot with access to two parallel streets, an existing house that must be maintained and incorporated into the building, and a very versatile programme. The promoter, Barcelona City Council, showed a special sensitivity to include sustainable initiatives.
With respect to the materials, systems, and processes, among others, what are the implemented solutions to contribute to sustainable development?
The Vil.la Urània equipment complex is part of the concept of nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (NZEBs). The energy demand is very low and the building itself generates part of the energy it consumes. On the one hand, it incorporates energy collection passively: a large gallery facing south-east contains the circulations, generating an intermediate space that thanks to a dynamic facade closes or opens as necessary. This solution reduces the energy demand and decreases the thermal jump between the air-conditioned interior and exterior.
On the other hand, the enclosures have a high degree of tightness and low transmittance. The air conditioning systems are high performance and have heat recovery. The building has geothermal energy and a photovoltaic plant on the roof. They have used materials of low environmental impact quickly renewable as wood, insulation of hemp, and also aluminum and steel with high recycled content.
Therefore, the building has a Energy Certification Class A and a LEED Platinum rating.
During the whole process, what challenges have you faced? Does the final result match the initial expectations?
One of the biggest challenges has been getting all the agents involved to row in the same direction. Challenges like this require a lot of pedagogy, patience and negotiation skills to reach a successful conclusion. The initial expectations were very high, but the reality and the final result far exceeds them.
At the moment, are you working on another project of the same nature?
We currently have several projects underway, including a school in Barcelona and another in L'Hospitalet, both in a very dense and consolidated urban environment. In spite of their formal differences, both respond to the same principles: to reduce to the maximum the energetic demand from the study of the emplacement and its asoleo. The principal aim of both projects is to take care of the quality of the envelope and the solar protection without forgetting the impact of the construction materials, always looking to minimise their ecological footprint.
What has your participation in the last edition of the Green Solutions Awards meant for your company?
Winning the Green Solution Awards in Spain, in the smart building category makes us feel proud, for the recognition of the work done and also gives us the strength to continue on the road towards urban sustainability, that seems to be necessary and, at the same time, exciting.