LOCAL LANDMARK : a new health centre by ELAP

....................................................................................................© Jesús Granada

The project is part of the Town Council’s initiative to build a new Health Center in Vélez-Rubio, a small village in the province of Almeria in the southeast of Spain. The creation of this new public building consists of a health center, a plaza, and a private, one floor underground parking lot. The studio ELAP, the architects of the project, is managed by Eva Luque and Alejandro Pascual, a young couple with an office in the city of Almería. ELAP, apart from working on architectural design, also take part in the world of publications related to architecture. They run the magazine the Architects Association of Almería and run their own publishing house called Irreversible Editorial.

Prior to the design of this health center, ELAP had already completed two projects related to health facilities: two health centers in Vega de Acá and Pulpí. They are both in southeast Spain. The health center is composed of two floors. The building does not occupy the whole plot; it also consists of a new public plaza for the people. The entire plot is occupied by a public car park in an underground level. Thus, the project is composed of three parts in a single proposal: a health center, public plaza, and parking.The main building has two levels, which contains areas for administration, waiting rooms, and consultations during the day. The waiting rooms are arranged in the east façade, always linked to the plaza, and consultations are distributed in the west facade. The second volume of one level hosts stays related to the emergency department. Other facilities are located in the underground floor, due to the specific conditions affecting them; for instance, the radiology room.

The town council has strict regulations in regards to the organization and construction of public health facilities, in which the building must be sectioned off according to department. Because of these regulations, the architects present a method of unifying the entire divided program. For this purpose, a uniform exterior, that contains all the departments, wraps the entire building, and serves as a strategy in the project. The outside appearance of the building has an overall identity, not distinguished between the rooms, but is unified by a facade, a strategy that ELAP has done in other projects of public health.The building has formed a link to the mountainous background, acting as a visual connection between the town and the mountains. To accomplish that connection, the architects have combined different types of steel in the façade that gives the project an irregular aspect that will always be in harmony with the landscape.

....................................................................................................© Jesús Granada

The whole facade is composed of a combination of galvanized steel and CORTEN steel plates, which are drilled or plain depending where they are placed. These plates are manufactured by a ship construction company and their differentiation is based on the minimum 2x1 m plates which are used for vessels. In order to establish continuity with the building and the public space of the square, its modulation of steel plates continues in the concrete panels that form the square. It also uses three different treatments of concrete, which have been modified with iron powder treatments to get different color finishes on the concrete panels.

....................................................................................................© Jesús Granada

These architects typically try to build through innovative techniques and materials, using experts and partners outside the world of architecture. This has allowed them to get sometimes lower costs on building and develop the beginning idea of their projects without having to adapt the project when the available budget has not been sufficient. The architects present an innovative way to distinguish the important zones of the building, using an iconography based on using bright colors. For example, the access road to the emergency entrance has been emphasized with a red and black stripe.

Acceptance of the project in the town of Velez-Rubio has been so successful that neighbors have decided to include this work in the tourist guide of the town. So from now on tourists visiting the castle and the town square, will also be able to visit the Health Center and the surrounding plaza with the bicentennial olive tree that has been planted in the center.

HEALTH CENTRE IN VELEZ-RUBIO. ALMERÍA
Construction date: 2007-2009
Client: Vélez-Rubio Town Hall. Consejería de Salud de la Junta de Andalucía.
Authors: Los del Desierto _ Eva Luque + Alejandro Pascual (ELAP SL)
Built area: 2258 m2
Budget: 1.902.347 €


May 2009
Article published on A10 magazine #27 . Link here