XL infrastructural construction between highway and forest, harboring twin oasis for cactus breeding and a mixed eco-cultural programme.
Desert City is a celebration of xerophytic plants and the production of a whole culture of interests and events around them. The project proposes an commercial, educational, sustainable and ecological complex in which to overlap activities that range from the exhibiting, growing and breeding of cactus from all over the world in a large garden and greenhouse, to housing an array of leisure activities such as presentations, small conventions, workshops or exhibitions. The large building contains, besides the greenhouse and exhibition space, storage, I+D, lab and educational areas.
These activities are sheltered by a lightweight container that responds, in terms of scale and materiality, to the near presence of the A-1 Highway. A “billboard-building”, parallel to the road, and acting as a filter between the harsh and infrastructural condition of the highway and the limit of the huge green pocket formed by the Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares, on the other side. The complex is structured internally by a sequence of symmetries organized around a cloister-like cactus garden, which receives newcomers, and the greenhouse space, covered by a cable roof designed according to the logic of tensegrity structures.
Despite its hybrid program, the complex’s construction is systematized through repetition, modulation and prefabrication of elements, resulting in a huge abstract stretched out skeleton that communicates its intense inner workings and the veiled presence of greenery as seen from the passing car through a tinted, watery glass facade. Construction incorporates sustainable solutions such as transparent photovoltaic glass, geothermal power, water recovery systems, solar controls, and extensive plantings in the site, originally a wasteland.