1

CTE DB HS 3 RITE (Spanish building code). In Spain, no allowance is made for exclusively natural ventilation (through windows) in dwellings. The only form of ventilation considered is by means of hybrid or mechanical air conditioning systems.

La ventilación natural en la normativa Española. RITE y CTE  [Blog post].

 

2

If anyone knows anything about this, I’d appreciate their comments. It reminds me of the rationale for ground floor lobbies in skyscrapers: their “skirting” makes it possible  to exploit the façade areas to gain height while also avoiding unfortunate events like the one Amelie described at the foot of Notre Dame.

Claudie Ossard Productions «Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain» (Amelie. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeune), Union Générale Cinématographique .2001

Windows Aren’t Even Good for Ventilation Any More

Unopenable Window (2019). Ink drawing by the author

 

Tosca – Suzuki (2000)

 

Almost a year ago, I was offered my first permanent contract with a construction company abroad.

Instead of shoving me straight into the treadmill (at that time, I’d have panicked and run away), the managers very wisely set me to work on designing two little bodega houses in some vineyards.

In some places, a “jack of all trades” architect is not a very common figure. I can only assume that the long drawn-out period of preparation in Spanish universities has as its objective to instil not only knowledge about construction but also character and the rational use of intuition. That gives you the versatility to be able to mediate between different actors and come up with multifaceted solutions.

They gave me hell with the BIM, and I took it as a personal challenge to bring those automatic computer-generated plans, drawings and data to life. Now I look at them and feel as if they’re mine.

Meanwhile, they told me to submit a design for a students’ hall of residence, in accordance with a translated copy of some local authority regulations which made it possible to do quite a lot with the site in question.

I remember my university days as a golden age, a time when you learn as much from fellow students in bars as you do in the lecture halls. And I remember I spent many afternoons drawing or studying with the window wide open, stealing space from the outside world and trying to turn the room into a balcony.

If we forget about corridors and base transit routes on balconies around an interior patio, would it be possible to use those m2 as common spaces or ground floor rooms? It’s not a new idea.

I look at Budapest, and then at Madrid: the typology is the same.

They told me the customer wanted neither a balcony nor openable windows.

 

I mentally ran through the manual1, and (oh so naively!) asked, 0} “Is that because of the energy saving regulations or the health regulations? The inhabitant has to have the freedom to destabilise the ventilation system. That’s what sensors are there for.”

And they replied, “They want a building that complies with the American security standard2”. 0} The requirement was aimed at avoiding suicides among students who might have found themselves under extreme stress.

You can imagine my face and my gestures as I tried to explain that instead of designing suicide-proof buildings we should be devoting our attention to architecture that allows interchange. Places where it’s good to live.

It’s contact with the outside world, and with other people, that relieves tensions.

An unopenable window is not a window but a partition screen. For me, it’s more comparable to a bank tellers’ security window.

Panoramic views. False windows. Frames, or screens.

Skyscraper windows.

They’re nothing new. In themselves , they’re neither good nor bad. But perhaps we could call those things by another name.

Window at Taro de Tahíche (1968). César Manrique © Alastair Philip Wiper (2014) [photograph].

For now, I’ll sit here thinking about it… because maybe one day I’ll be working from home, from somewhere that smells of the sea.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

CTE DB HS 3 RITE (Spanish building code). In Spain, no allowance is made for exclusively natural ventilation (through windows) in dwellings. The only form of ventilation considered is by means of hybrid or mechanical air conditioning systems.

La ventilación natural en la normativa Española. RITE y CTE  [Blog post].

 

2

If anyone knows anything about this, I’d appreciate their comments. It reminds me of the rationale for ground floor lobbies in skyscrapers: their “skirting” makes it possible  to exploit the façade areas to gain height while also avoiding unfortunate events like the one Amelie described at the foot of Notre Dame.

Claudie Ossard Productions «Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain» (Amelie. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeune), Union Générale Cinématographique .2001

Autor:
(Tenerife,1991) Tras graduarse en la ETSAM, trabajó proyectando en Budapest. Disfruta de la vuelta a su insularidad, donde continúa su formación y colabora en distintos proyectos vinculados al patrimonio y paisaje.

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