student hotel melon district

Location: Parallel 101, Sants-Montjuic, Barcelona
Year: 2007
Area: Total (with 6 floors): 2482.00m2
Client: Catalonia Gebira S.L, Barcelona
Photos: bruno helbling

student hotel melon district, barcelona

"It is not a building but a district"

District is the way a human being lives in urban context.

We choose of the shelf low cost industrial materials to create these urban spaces. There is no hierarchy within these surfaces that makes it urban and authentic. Therefore each surface transmits a feeling of purity and coexistence in relation with its surrounding.The statics of Melon District are defined by the authenticity of the materials. There is no decoration.

An important actor in this context is the white floor: the main horizontal surface of the project which goes beyond its basic definition. So the white floor leaves its own physical contact and initiates a sacred walk throughout the district. It is a common industrial floor.

The Melon District Project can be seen as a mini urbanization like a small area of the city which contains the urban sculpture.

The urban sculpture is like a big stone containing all the public programs. Where the urban sculpture and the city of Barcelona meet, is the reception, entrance and exit of the district.

This urban sculpture connects all the levels of the district and it is the main reference for orientation.

(...) Designed by Gus Wüstemann, a Swiss architect based in Barcelona, the Melon district is an urban concrete sculpture whose sharp volumetric volumes contain-ing the public and private entities of the program are constituted of plain, raw surfaces of almost monochromatic colors providing luminosity and clarity to the interior and enhancing the connection with the polychromatic exterior through wide glazed openings. The game of contrast of this new urban block with its adjacent edifications grants it a particular identity.

The interaction with the public space starts at the residence’s entrance, a wide clear hall with big openings on the street and from where the architectural promenade begins within the building.

In fact, the residence develops through a series of diaphanous and serene spaces, where you move in-between shared public spaces and intimate private residence cells. Circulation consists of lifts, stairs and a hallway that crosses the private rooms and ends in the heart of the Melon flat - the living room, a recurring space with a golden envelop at each level.

The program actually consists of single rooms, studios on the ground floor, living rooms, and a cooking space on each level. All are shaped and thought out following the same criteria of the purity of the composing elements, the imperfection of the finishing granting a unique identity to each room, the natural light flooding from the exterior façade opening, and the atmospheric light of the interior façade. The single room of 10.8 m2 is neat with an explicit use of built elements, the bed implies a sleeping zone or a lounge zone and the table-cupboard-shelf mini white sculpture accepts multiple uses.

The studio, located on the ground floor is of a 4 m height, allowing the bed to be located on an upper level and gaining more living surface in the studio; a study table faces the window on the patio and can be moved to serve a meal situation.

The living room at each floor level is conceived as a free-platform, where the furniture consisting of movable cubes can shape the space following the various uses possibly taking place during social activity. The cooking space is a metal inox/chrome table having a golden wall as a backstage and acting like a signage to locate this shared space at each level.

The ultimate public space within the Melon district residence is the terrace-swimming pool. Palm trees, sand with a transparent polyurethane, a wooden deck finishing and natural concrete reminding of its urban nature, offer a semi-public space achieving the final insertion of the building in the cityscape where the use of terraces is a common trend.

A precise and careful choice of materials with the intention of exposing them in their nature, contributes to a comfortable sense of the space. Sheer simplicity grants subtlety to the spaces where light and sharp volumetric wall-partitions are the main actors of the space. A certain fluidity of the space runs over the smooth white painted and varnished plastered walls, raw concrete ceilings, and white polyurethane floors. The lighting concept reinforces this fluid perception, consisting of inner façades lighting and cubic indirect lights that dilute the limits of the space, transform-ing in a continuous visual experience. In the attempt to escape “artificial” design that overwhelms a space, a complex kind of “absent design” is achieved where use is suggested and not imposed.

In this sense, it is not strange that the concept of the residence ends up in creating a freedom-ambiance in the place, liberating it from any dissonant note or manieristic design gesture; it is in a way democratic, the free-plan accepting multiple uses, insuring intimacy as well as exposure and lacking of any imposing centrality.

While the building as a whole communicates with its surrounding; always insuring from private or public perspectives a connection with the exterior, it also insures an intimate haven in its inner space. The interior spatial experience seeking calm and neutrality allow for the different identities of the students to be displayed; resulting in the only “colorful” touch to the lived-space. " by Darine Choueiri