MADRID – An old school, granted by Madrid city hall, has been the home for people with severe cerebral palsy for over 20 years. Functioning as a special education school, a day centre and a home, the building showed inadequate conditions and was also being pushed to its limits in terms of capacity. After the centre requested financial help, support came from the Esther Koplowitz Foundation which managed the project for an extension. Architecture firm Hans Abaton was assigned to design the addition providing a comfortable habitable space to the children.
The programme for the three-storey extension includes an administration area in the basement, a multipurpose hall on the ground floor and the patients’ rooms on the first floor. The project is designed to offer ‘a happy and optimistic overall image; a place which is home to the hope for improvement,’ explains the architect. Placed above a glazed façade, the dwellings awash with vibrant colours states their presence within their surroundings. While imitating the shape of the nearby houses, the bright colours gives the children the idea of a unique home.
Each room accommodates two children. Inside, the high ceiling creates a sense of openness and space and so do the panoramic windows. Adding to the overall comfort, the glazed openings are positioned for patients to have a view even when sitting in their wheelchairs. In order to protect the children from temperature changes, ‘the windows are made with double glass sheets with sun control to avoid heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer,’ mentioned the architect. The materials for the rooms and the multipurpose hall below, are sober and chosen to be highly resistant, easy to clean and maintain.