The University of Alicante in San Vicente del Raspeig occupies the site of the former military airport of Rabasa.
Siza was asked to design an office and administrative building
for the college rector on the edge of the campus, adjacent to an
abandoned air control tower. Deferring to the tower the building
gradually diminishes in area, as well as in height, as it
approaches the tower close to its south end.
The rectory building is thought of as a closed fortress
defending itself, in the Hispano-Arabic manner, from the
torrentially hot climate, accentuating the distinctly planar
character of the campus. The main entrance, dominated by a large
block of granite placed perpendicular to the opening, is on the
At the north end of the building there is a more restricted
pedestrian entrance, through the small Representative Department
courtyard, and a ramp leading to the lower level garage and
The double courtyard building is organized around a basic letter "H" plan. The plan clearly marks the hierarchies of use as the courtyards distinguish and qualify them. Thus, the larger courtyard, of a longitudinal form, is dedicated to the organisation of the administration, while the smaller courtyard distributes the social and representative functions. The piece linking both courtyards contains the horizontal and common-use spaces such as foyer, atria and various accesses.
To enter the building from the main entrance visitors pass
through the entire length of the courtyard; a sweeping open space,
paved in tan-colored sand, flanked by a stark single-storied
arcade. An exterior passageway on the upper level underlines the
introverted nature of the building.
Deep overhangs of smooth, stuccoed concrete softens the light pouring into the tall, narrow classrooms and offices. Glazed doors along the courtyard almost eliminates the need for artificial light. The exterior finish is stucco mixed with pulverised brick complemented by a ceramic tile base; a traditional finish of the region which brings the desired coolness to the space. Window and door frames are a painted wood-steel combination.
Inside the spareness continues; the walls are clad in pale lemon
colored tiles, with stone flooring in the public places on the
ground level and wooden floors on the second level; to further
accentuate the hierarchical character of the floors.
Within the foyer, a double-height, semi-circular void disperses soft light into the depth of the building and, at the same time, signals its identity as a vertical connector uniting the two floors.
Siza shades and filters the sunlight in a varying degree. Glazed panels in doors along the corridors filter daylight into the almost windowless halls. Artificial light is always indirect.
This structural simplicity allows for the creation of an exterior brick cavity wall containing an airspace and thermal insulation, thus protecting the project from intemperate weather.
The exterior finish is stucco mixed with pulverised brick complemented by a 1.80 m high stone base which helps protect the wall.
Facts about Rectory Building
Luiz Diaz-MaurinoAntonio Morata Ortiz
José Pérez Molina (structural, electrical, water)
Joaquin Solbes llorca (mechanical)
Gines Navarro (foundation)
San José Construction (structure and finishes)
University of Alicante
Last updated: May 26, 2014
Siza, Souto de Moura, Moneo, Calatrava and Barraga,
North Adams, Massachusetts, USA