Con­crete’s Softer Side


Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _Kendra Jack­son PHO­TOGRAPHS _Fer­nando Alda

Cór­doba, Spain, is steeped in an­cient Ara­bic ar­chi­tec­ture, and the city’s new Palace of Jus­tice court­house man­ages to both ref­er­ence its his­toric sur­round­ings and add a con­tem­po­rary ver­nac­u­lar to the land­scape. The com­plex’s out­ward ap­pear­ance was in­formed by a need for se­cu­rity and pri­vacy – the 48,000-square-me­tre build­ing con­tains court­rooms, judges’ cham­bers, pri­vate of­fices and a prison – but, as a pub­lic cen­tre, it also needed to be open and invit­ing. To ad­dress the dual in­ter­ests, Dutch firm Me­canoo worked with engi­neers at Ayesa to de­vise a cladding sys­tem of matte white, glass-re­in­forced con­crete dis­tin­guished by per­fo­ra­tions and em­boss­ments. “A lot of de­sign tricks went into th­ese,” says as­so­ciate part­ner Nuno Fon­tarra of the seem­ingly ran­dom mo­tifs. Forty pat­terns, in­flu­enced by those found on his­toric mosques in the city, are re­peated in dif­fer­ent ori­en­ta­tions across 1,200 pre-cast pan­els fab­ri­cated by Pre­horquisa. The cut-outs fil­ter light into the in­te­rior, but, from the street, views are ef­fec­tively con­cealed. “It’s a very ur­ban site; the neigh­bours are very close,” notes Fon­tarra. Far from im­pos­ing, the fa­cade has a del­i­cate, lace-like ap­pear­ance that lends a re­ju­ve­nat­ing pres­ence to the blocks of hous­ing that en­cir­cle it. me­

Lift­ing the court­house two me­tres above street level ad­dresses pri­vacy con­cerns. Ver­ti­cal in­ci­sions cre­ate in­te­rior court­yards.

To help mit­i­gate so­lar heat gain in a city that sees sum­mer tem­per­a­tures reach 37 de­grees Cel­sius, white was cho­sen for the con­crete pan­els.

Gold-fin­ished alu­minum screens front the win­dows that face in­te­rior court­yards. The metal gives con­trast to the matte white con­crete.

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