Desert City is a celebration of xerophytic plants and the production of a whole culture of interests and events around them. The project proposes an commercial, educational, sustainable and ecological complex in which to overlap activities that range from the exhibiting, growing and breeding of cactus from all over the world in a large garden and greenhouse, to housing an array of leisure activities such as presentations, small conventions, workshops or exhibitions. The large building contains, besides the greenhouse and exhibition space, storage, I+D, lab and educational areas.
These activities are sheltered by a lightweight container that responds, in terms of scale and materiality, to the near presence of the A-1 Highway. A “billboard-building”, parallel to the road, and acting as a filter between the harsh and infrastructural condition of the highway and the limit of the huge green pocket formed by the Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares, on the other side. The complex is structured internally by a sequence of symmetries organized around a cloister-like cactus garden, which receives newcomers, and the greenhouse space, covered by a cable roof designed according to the logic of tensegrity structures.
Despite its hybrid program, the complex’s construction is systematized through repetition, modulation and prefabrication of elements, resulting in a huge abstract stretched out skeleton that communicates its intense inner workings and the veiled presence of greenery as seen from the passing car through a tinted, watery glass facade. Construction incorporates sustainable solutions such as transparent photovoltaic glass, geothermal power, water recovery systems, solar controls, and extensive plantings in the site, originally a wasteland.
Project: Xerophytic plant greenhouse and garden + I+D programme + ludic-educational programme
Status: Built (2017)
Client: Desert City
Location: San Sebastián de los Reyes, Madrid
Team: Jacobo García-Germán, Marta García Jiménez, Laura Carrero, Miguel López, Raquel Díaz de la Campa, Lidia de Lucas, Martha Sosa Dias, Andrea Gutierrez, Victoria Álvarez, Margot Roset, Paula Lizcano, Christina Christofidou, Marta Roldán, Celia Sánchez Ylla
Consultants: Antonio Usero (strategy and management), Mario García (quantity surveyor), Felipe F. Sanz/Consult-E (structural engineer), Úrculo Ingenieros (mechanicals), Arenas Ingenieros (structural engineers greenhouse roof), Lastra & Zorrilla (tecnical development & manufacture ETFE textiles), Patricia Gammichia (landscaping), Ángel Sampedro (mobility project & traffic studies), Alberto Charlez (site manager)
Builder: Isolux Corsán
Photographs: Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero)
Prizes: Shortlisted European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2019, XIV BEAU Bienal Española de Arquitectura y Urbanismo 2018 Prize, Finalist FAD Prize 2018, Fuera de Serie Prize 2017