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Rectory Building
Álvaro Siza

June 24, 2002 /

Alicante, Spain

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Photo: arcspace

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.

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Photo: arcspace

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 south-east corner.

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Photo: arcspace

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 delivery area.

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Photo: arcspace

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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.

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Sketch courtesy Alvaro Siza
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Photo: arcspace

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.

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Photo: arcspace

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Photo: arcspace

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.

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Photo: arcspace

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Photo: arcspace

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Photo: arcspace

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Photo: arcspace

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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.

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Drawing courtesy Alvaro SizaGround Floor Plan
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Drawing courtesy Alvaro SizaFirst Floor Plan
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Drawing courtesy Alvaro SizaCross Section
The concrete structure is comprised of columns and lightweight two-way slabs with openings of moderate dimensions.

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

Total area:

75,000 m2

Architect:
Alvaro Siza

Project Team:

Elisiário Miranda
Louiz Martinez-Planelles
Avelino Silva
Carlos Seoane
Christina Ferreirinha
Hana Kassem
Luiz Diaz-MaurinoAntonio Morata Ortiz

Structural Engineers:

José Pérez Molina (structural, electrical, water)
Joaquin Solbes llorca (mechanical)

General Contractor:

Gines Navarro (foundation)
San José Construction (structure and finishes)

Client:

University of Alicante

Last updated: May 26, 2014

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