Xamfrà Social Housing, Barcelona

xamfrà, or chamfer, is a family apartment complex in the L’Esquerra de l’Eixample neighbourhood of Barcelona. Occupying a long and narrow site, the building extends to 8 floors, with 7 apartments and commercial space on the ground floor. With one apartment per floor, maximum privacy is provided. A series of trapezoidal light wells and courtyards puncture the long thin mass in an ode to the Guadi-esque courts of the Casa Mila nearby, although reinterpreted for the unique plot characteristics. These trapezoidal light wells connect to a central structural spine, and not only provide extra façade for livings space and more light, but also define the internal space without unnecessary interior walls. The hexagonal façade is a reflection of the chamfered block corners throughout this portion of the Barcelona urban fabric, but also provide a significant insulative depth to the façade, which allows for conductive cooling and sound insulation.

The Xamfrà social housing block has one apartment per floor, and introduces trapezoidal lightwells deep into the plan to provide 4x more façade than the conventional plot would allow. The trapezoidal forms repeat themselves as an architectural element and glazing element to reinforce the natural beauty of the form. Hollow hexagonal glazing block provide better sound insulation and offer opportunities for stack ventilation in the summer. The depth of the plot is used as an advantage, where the sleeping rooms are positioned on the quieter side of the block in the interior.

Where Xamfrà meets the ground, a sculpted stone wall greets passers-by and residents. The wall is composed of hexagonal blocks that have been carved in specific angles, and then rotated on alternating planes, stacking on top of each other. The sandstone blocks catch the light and, over time, begin to grow mosses, likens and a weathered tactile patina begins to form.

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