mirari azkarate torner
I aitziber alonso
It seems apartments are not only mere machines to live (as Le Corbusiers said). They represent much more than this within a society. Apart from being the reflection of concrete values and people, apartments are the obstruction that reduces the change of a society. Their high costs create worry and distrust towards experimentation because the product itself isn’t something that can be easily changed. People usually aim for old formulas instead of proposing new ones.
The slow departure from your parent’s, the descending of marriages, the lowering of the birth rate, the wide age span of life, the growth of new technologies, immigration... New type of inhabitants are being born but their demands aren’t met. The project of these new apartments doesn’t fit the reality.
Within this context, we can place the APTM project of the Construmat exhibition. Directed by the architect Joseph Bohigas, some architects and students have handed in several proposals and analysis around the “micro houses”. They have some features in common: low prices, good quality materials, tolerability and minimum spaces. The next architects have taken part in this work: Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal, Ábalos & Herreros, Santiago Cirugeda and Gustavo Gili, as well as the winners of the “Habitácola” contest: Sergio García, Jorge Cortés, Borja García and Miquel Suau.
Here are some of their proposals to solve the problems of apartments: houses for more than one family with spaces to share, apartment blocks, the creation of new typologies, a new redefinition of the minimum space and basing building and energy on effective ways. The surface of all the proposals is around 30 square meters and the height is twice as much. Lacaton & Vassal create an exterior terrace as a kind of transition element from public to private spaces. Ábalos and Herreros have made common spaces to share, such as a gym and a cleaning room. Satinago Cirugeda has created a new prototype with recycled material. In the proposal of Gustavo Gili, there are two main boxes; one is an unfinished element that meets the needs of the inhabitant, and the other one meets the compulsory functions. The idea of Sergio García Gasco, Jorge Cortés and Borja García is based on the distribution of the day and night areas. They achieve spaces with different atmospheres by changing heights. Furniture plays an important role because it organizes the surface. Miquel Suau distributes his house in several modules considering flexibility the main axis. The basis of this new typology doesn’t lay in small spaces but in economy. They aren’t definitive houses, but solutions which are within everybody’s reach. However, some minimum spaces cast doubt on people’s dignity, as if the inhabitant was an animal. The human being needs at least 100 square meters for his personal and social development. It seems that nowadays dignity can be bought with money.
There is argument around this topic. It calls the traditional scheme of family and society in question. However, when we talk about apartments, the change is inevitable.