Red accents enliven social housing block on triangular plot in Barcelona

Movable metal shutters reveal bright red balconies at this social housing block in Barcelona, created by local architecture studios MIAS and Coll-Leclerc Architects.

Located on a triangular plot to the south of the city, the building provides 72 apartments across seven storeys and is clad with vertical panels of terracotta-coloured glass-reinforced concrete.

Exterior view of 72 Social Housing Units in Barcelona
MIAS has designed a social housing block on a triangular plot in Barcelona

MIAS and Coll-Leclerc Architects’ distinctive use of colour for the development references the area’s history in textile manufacturing where fabrics used to be dyed red and dried in the sun, giving the neighbourhood its name Marina del Prat Vermell, or Red Meadow Marina.

To maximise the number of units that could be fit on the site, MIAS filled its maintained outline and prow-like edges. Two large cuts divide the housing into three smaller, “porous” blocks with planted pathways in between.

Concrete-clad housing block by MIAS and Coll-Leclerc Architects
The block is clad with vertical panels of terracotta-coloured concrete

“Porosity refers to the permeability of the building, allowing air to flow through both the structure and the streets intersecting the main volume,” MIAS architect Daniela Salaris told Dezeen.

“I am particularly interested in architecture that does not confine, that does not precisely define its physical limits, but instead creates spaces for the gaze to extend beyond the confines of the container,” she added.

Facade of triangular social housing block by MIAS and Coll-Leclerc Architects
Red balconies are sheltered by metal shutters

Splitting the project into smaller blocks avoided the creation of large corridors, instead creating corner apartments with equal access to light, air and views.

While the layout of the apartments in the centre has been kept consistent, the two prow-like corners to the east and the west of the site contain unique spaces tailored to their more angular and narrow floor plans.

“I think the main achievement is that while being in a multi-family building, you have the sensation of being in a detached single-family home as if you do not belong to a residential building with seven floors,” explains Salaris.

“The interior spaces flow, relate to each other easily, and connect with the exterior, with distant views, so that the interior spaces expand to the outside through the terraces,” she added.

Red-lined apartment interior in Barcelona by MIAS and Coll-Leclerc Architects
Red doors, window frames and furniture feature on the interior

Each apartment has access to its own covered terrace offering views over the city and sea, sheltered from the sun by folding metal shutters that animate the facades and are lined internally with bright red finishes.

Inside, this red has been carried through to the doors, window frames and furniture, providing contrast to the otherwise minimal white walls and exposed concrete ceilings.

Apartment balcony at 72 Social Housing Units by MIAS and Coll-Leclerc Architects
Each apartment has access to a covered terrace

The roofs of the blocks are finished with a combination of planting and photovoltaic panels that cover around half of the building’s energy consumption, according to MIAS.

Dezeen’s Social Housing Revival series recently highlighted the rapid ramping up of social housing provision in Barcelona, as part of a series of measures by the city to tackle issues of housing affordability.

Other social housing projects recently featured on Dezeen include a Parisian estate by SOA Architectes with arched windows and sloping roofs and La Brea Affordable Housing in West Hollywood, designed by Patrick Tighe and John Mutlow as a contemporary take on art deco.

The photography is by Adrià Goula.

Project credits:

Architect: MIAS Architects, Coll-Leclerc
Client: IMHAB Municipal Institute of Housing and Renovation of Barcelona
Collaborators: Carla Blanch, Marc Subirana, Mar Genovés, Manuel Giró, Mauro Soro, Maria Chiara Ziliani, Marta Casas, Anna Massana

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