Since the first time we visited the barracks located at Europa point we take account of the great possibilities of this project, or his location (N-S orientation and impressive sea views) as well as for the buildings intrinsic value as cultural heritage (antiquity, materials, and interior brick vaults).
Firstly we focus our intervention on pulling down all the structures added on different moments for the uses placed during the complex´s life. After trying, unsuccessfully, to locate all the large programme of necessities in the existing buildings when we realize that we need to build two new buildings. By this time we made the decision of arrange and promote this “in between spaces”, as a goal for the project.
We have previously decided to refurbish the existing buildings for the Academic Staff Offices (because of its north light and a certain independence from the Common Teaching Facilities) when we decide to develop some new volumes to complete the necessities program. This new buildings give us the chance of restore the original trace. This new enclosure appears like a sort of “cloister” with a new private garden.
In order to organise the program´s circulations we took advantage of two axis, North-South and East-West.
The first one sets a circulation from the north entrance, courtyard, and goes across the main building to the barracks. We change vertical communications (stairs and lift) to this point. The west-east axis (parallel to the main building façade) defines the two new entrances to the university.
Were this two axis cross each other is our new central point for the university. For this reason we make the decision of relocate in this place all the representative areas (Main reception, Learning Café, Main Hall...etc) to promote social interaction and a natural exchange of knowledge and experiences between academic staff, students and visitors.
From our point of view this should be the aim of the university and the project´s principal consideration.
This space needs to link all the activities and take advantage of the important slope (from the principal building to the barracks) to develop a double height atrium.
We cover up this space with thermic glaze and a white steel frames (equipped with brisoleis) to create an Impluvium of changing natural light. This social interaction areas are kept more formal on the ground level, and more informal on the basement level (closer to the university´s refectory).
Even though both areas share this central atrium.
We tried to keep its character of the XVIII century main building placing all the representative areas, like Managing Unit, Library, Study Areas and Main Hall (in the N-S axis) in it.
We decide to use this interesting rooms to set in them all shared needs for both qualifications, like
Common Teaching Facilities, Offices for Support Staff, Toilets, and Staff room...etc.
We set all classroom in a central place whereas all the complementary uses are moved to the ends.
We build two prismatic volumes, each side of the atrium, to locate the Faculty of Health studies and the Faculty of Hospitality. This blind boxes look for zenithlightning by sky lights on the ground level, and look like there are support by metal profiles on the basement level.
We tried to make change the façade with the purpose of create a new user´s sphere in each level.
With an independent entrance close to the main access, we locate the restaurant on top of the current barracks. We have tried to generate a clear and open space only, produced with glaze steel frames and shadows. Barely defined by a light roof we tried to take advantage of the exceptional views of Africa on top of Europe point.
New meets old throughout the University of Gibraltar. In particular, glass facades and glass balustrades are positioned in contrast with original structures such as brick vaults. Fusing an historic fabric with modern design elements such as glass balustrades present numerous challenges. Here, balustrade manufacturer Q-railing collaborated closely with the Ayalto Integral architecture studio to design an all-glazed balustrade system using the manufacturer’s Easy Glass Pro system.
For the architects, it was essential the balustrade solution created a seamless transition between materials, achieve maximum transparency and provide spectacular views. ‘We wanted to enhance sea views, especially out towards Africa and the Estrecho, by making functional elements such as handrails disappear,’ explains project architect Ozores Pardo.
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The Ayalto Integral architecture studio has created a strikingly modern campus for the University of Gibraltar by transforming a nineteenth-century fort that looks out over the sea towards Africa. The design of the new university building emphasises transparency and openness while retaining the integrity of the historic structure. This innovative project received the 2015 Gibraltar Heritage Award.
The first step was to renovate existing buildings and adapt them to the requirements of the university. Several new buildings were also constructed. A variety of ‘in-between spaces’, such as cloister gardens, integrate the new structures with the fabric of the old fort.
To provide an overall organising principle for this complex project, the architects created two main axes running through the site: north-south and east-west. The north-south axis is used to organise movement from the north entrance and courtyard through the main building to the former barracks. This structure has been renovated and provided with state of the art teaching spaces, offices and staff support facilities. Above the barracks is a new restaurant with expansive balconies and beautiful views.
At the crossing point of the two axes, there is a main reception, a new hall and a learning café. The whole of this central gathering area is enclosed in a white steel-frame structure. A covering of brise soleil elements allows filtered natural light to flood dramatically through the lofty interior spaces.
Throughout the university buildings, new meets old. In particular, glazed façades and glass balustrades are positioned in striking contrast with original structures such as brick vaults.
About the project Fusing a historic fabric with modern design elements, such as glass balustrades, presented numerous challenges. It required close cooperation between product manufacturers, including Q-railing, and the project architect. ‘For example, in all the glazed balustrade systems, we needed to achieve a demanding resistance parameter, in accordance with British Standards. Q-railing provided Easy Glass Pro glass balustrades for the project. They also constructed and tested the solution, certifying values required by Building Control,’ says principal architect Xavier Ozores Pardo.
For the architects, there were two key design goals: to create seamless transitions between materials, and to achieve maximum transparency, providing spectacular views. ‘We wanted to enhance sea views, especially out towards Africa and the Estrecho, by making functional elements such as handrails disappear,’ explains Ozores Pardo.
These goals are most fully realised in the university’s new restaurant. Its totally glazed façades and all-glass balustrades allow for impressive, unobstructed views out across the sea towards Africa. This exemplifies the architect’s sensitive design approach, and brings out the full potential of the site.
The University of Gibraltar lighting project was a very interesting one for our company. We feel truly privileged to be a part of such a prestigious project.
Our goal was to create practical and functional lighting elements that stood out while emphasizing the natural characteristics of the iconic structure. Though never imposing too much or ofuscating the true focus: the rich architectural basis of the building.
Our lighting, composed mainly by continuous lines, creates a geometric sensation of the space and a sense of continuity and fluidity, which allows us to elongate an already very generous space. The constant mixture of natural rock and metal creates a welcoming atmosphere that perfectly embraces the rustic and the modern, for a more complete overall design and a more organic feel.