‘One day, I found an old bicycle saddle among a heap of scrap and just next to it, a rusted handlebar. Immediately, the two parts were associated in my imagination. The idea of the bullhead came into my mind without even reflecting about it. I just had to weld them. Maybe I just should have got rid of the bullhead, throw it away to the street, to the stream, wherever, but get rid of it. Maybe then a worker had passed along and picked it up. Maybe he would have realized that with that bullhead he could have made a saddle and a handlebar. And he could have done it. It would have been amazing.’
The dismantling of an academy and the setting of another one to take in more students favoursthe displacement of a material that was going to be taken away. The project is based on the reusing and optimization of the existing resources giving response to the client necessities, with the minimum budget and not generating any waste in the process.
In the premises that the company left, we found 33 pieces of glass which were going to be wasted and thrown away. Our proposal consists on displacing them to build the classrooms that they needed, giving new life to this material so it could have a new sense, creating not only the encircling of the classrooms, but also functioning as a blackboard and showing surface.
During the building, done between the 24th of December and the 2nd of January, coinciding with the students Christmas holidays, one of the associates decides that he/she wanted an opaque material for his/her office, so 4 of the pieces of glass with which it was made up were taken apart. We thought of an alternative use of them in a way that the building did not produce any waste, so we could go on with the process by means of which, as Picasso stated, the objects do not have any predetermined ending, but we can redefine them to the infinite, giving space to new stories and reconsiderations which assume resonances of previous lives.
1 Picasso is explaining his work Cabeza de Toro to Brassaï.
The 4 remaining pieces of glass were piled in the form of a bench, waiting for being converted into any other thing with the passing of time because we do not pretend in any case that the new use that we have given to these objects to be definitive but we hope to continue with the process of transformation and recycling.
Explanation of the project
By the end of the year 2012, the centre of studies IPAO decides to abandon one of the premises where it is accommodated, which is rented, to develop all its activities in another one, which it owns. Because of this, there is a need to equip the basement of this last one, increasing the number of classrooms in order to give enough capacity to its entire program, in a more reduced space.
In the month of November, the project is assigned to a technical architect, who suggests departmentalizing the basement with a cardboard-plaster partition wall due to the shortage of budget and the difficulty to deal with a more ambitious intervention.
To abandon the rented premises, the client must empty and leave it such as he /she had found it 10 years ago. Then it is when our participation in the process begins.
Helping to the cleaning of the place due to our personal bond with its proprietors we discovered that in the academy that was about to be dismantled, there were 34 translucent pieces of glass placed to enclose the classrooms. These pieces of glass were going to be cleared and thrown away, while to increase the teaching program of the premises that they had they thought of buying and installing panels of cardboard-plaster.
We considered that this material was perfect to be reused and to assume the program of necessities thought for the basement, offering great possibilities in combination with an adequate lighting system, so we convinced the proprietor to stop the building (they had already started to build the cardboard-plaster partitions) and think again about it.
The suggestion that we made consisted on the displacement of these 34 found pieces of glass to build the new classrooms with them, doing this operation during the 10 Christmas holiday days, the only moment in which both learning centres would be empty. But apart from the recovery of a material that was going to be wasted,our intention was to provide it with a ‘new life’, to give it a second chance based on a total prominence not only of the space, but also of the generated activity.
With this aim we placed the pieces of glass in a way that they functioned as a blackboard of every classroom and as a screen for showing inside and outside them.
The work then consisted on the arrangement of a new translucent fold which assumed the partition walls of cardboard –plaster that were already built and strictly corresponded in their form and direction to the recovered pieces of glass, adjusted to the different widths that they had.
During the building one of the associates decided that he/she did not want glass in his/her office, so 4 pieces had to be dismantled. We thought of an alternative use of them, not only with the aim of not generating any waste, but also to continue the process by means of what objects do not have a predetermined ending because we can reformulate them until the indefinite, giving space to new configurations and stories, being economically and energetically ideal, resulting of a great interest, assuming echoes of previous lives.
Finally, the 4 remaining pieces of glasses were cut and piled forming a bench, in a way that students now can sit over the pieces of glass among which they received lessons in the place that they had already left.
2 At the beginning, 34 pieces of glass were discovered, about to be eliminated, but during the dismantling of the academy one of them was broken, number 28.Due to the limited budget, it was not substituted by a new one and there had to be a modification of the shape of the new translucent fold, adapting it to a new length.
We do not pretend that the new use that we have given to these recycled objects to be definite, but we hope that the already started transformation process with this action will go on, in a way that in the future someone will be able to look at the bench and decide that he/she can build a new office or any other thing with it, giving space to new stories and configurations. In this way the architectural project is understood as a further space inside the long transformation process of places and objects, another bond of the infinite chain of time.
With this procedure we did not generate any waste in the dismantling of the rented premises, reusing everything that we found. The cross sections holding the pieces of glass which we could not use for the project were dismantled by ourselves and sold to a nearby scrap place to recycle. The money that we got from it was aimed to the project fees.
The encircling of glass makes the students to be part of the activity at both sides of it, being able to guess shades, drawings and writings of the different studied lessons, showings and reflections.
The lighting turns out to be an important element of the space configuration and its changing perception throughout the day, creates a different experience for the students, visitors and teachers, depending on the situation in which we find the academy.
The budget was really short, so we had to solve the whole project with LED tubes with 1, 50 and 1, 20 metres length, with 28 units in total.
This choice led to amuch reduced installation cost, which could be done in a few hours, something really important due to the few available days that we had to finish the project. We spent only one day for the total electrical installation, achieving the expected results for the correct functioning of the 33 pieces of glass as encircling, blackboard and showing screen.
The set LED tubes, 23 W powers, have a minimum life of 50.000 hours. The reduced consume, together with the savings in maintenance costs, turn them into an optimum solution for the client’s circumstances.
Due to the limited available space we did not choose a combination of a direct lighting system and an indirect one. However, thanks to the chosen material to separate the classrooms (an amount of translucent carbonate out of stock) and the isolation of them from the outside (translucent glass), the indirect light comes through the spaces surrounding every classroom, being from the flowing areas or from the neighbour classrooms.
As you can see, the used lighting system is not sophisticated. Nevertheless, it achieves the aim of giving response to the client’s needs with a minimum budget, and besides, it allows qualifying the recycled displaced material giving place to interesting experiences, allowing the transformation and adaptation of the different spaces to the requirements of every activity.
It can happen that the carbonate panels will temporarily disappear from inside the glass fold, functioning as a single classroom, as two, or under any required form, adapting the project to every situation, leading to a different experience in any of them.