The pre-existing space was a heavily compartmentalized flat with 9 “rooms” distributed in only 100m². Built in the late fifties by a the union group of architects (lead by Moreno Barberá, and composed among others, by Cano Lasso, De la Joya or Benlloch La Roda), the 15-story tower-block crowns the beginning of the current urban-park triumph “Madrid Río”. The tower, located in a very important limit for the city, is part of the “Colonia de San Antonio”, an urban experiment, forgotten nowadays, that provided an answer to an linear urban island surrounded by the Casa de Campo (a vast urban forest), the M-30 (urban motorway), the river and the city center. The urban proposal, inherited from the modern movement, spread out along the river several building typologies, mixing natural and constructed areas and with an assortment of public services… creating city and allowing the area to survive as a neighborhood nowadays.
The experimental essence of the proposal was born from a functional lack of definition and an economic limitation. There is a need for habitats of different natures that can, somehow, co-exist either individually or collectively in the same space, in the same body. Working, leisure-sports and domestic habitats need to transform, adapt and co-exist in a space that has to be “NON-BINARY” by force. A fixed hybrid space is not required, but it must have the spacetime capacity of changing depending on the needs of its users and the specific contexts, whether this is daily, weekly or for long periods of time.
Thus, by defining the rules that create these synergies, the original structure of the building is unveiled. Latent limits are formed, with the shape of a Latin-cross plan, as a result of the structural reality of the tower typology but negating the original internal compartmentalization. This is defined as a “structure” space in which there are no function-associated spaces: living room, waiting room, ballroom or yoga studio; wall bars or shelving unit, an office or a study; an eating room or meeting room, a kitchen or woodworking zone, etc. Spaces are not heirs of their function, but of a series of circumstances related to structure, energy, time or freedom of interpretation from whoever uses, lives or exploits them.
As so, the air that fills the Latin-cross shapes the non-binary, non-defined space, divided into 5 crossed quadrants of similar size; a miscellaneous space, almost a stage upon which different plays and genres can take place and provide the context. On the other hand, the inverse quadrants of the Latin cross encompass the “programmed” spaces, those with a more permanent use, that can support any of the functions that take place in the “free” space.
Furniture, objects, materials and construction details had to be non-binary as well: the kitchen- island doubles as a cutting-table, wall textures and their construction do not clarify if they are walls, paneling, doors or cupboards. Nothing is associated with a specific function. The “make-up” specific to an individual function – household appliances or tableware, in the domestic facet; computers, stationery or printers, in the office facet; wall bars, equipment or high-endurance screed, in the sports/dancing facet – is hidden, disguised or built-in, avoiding all reference to function, and, as Jacques Hondelatte said, “not undermining freedom of use”.
As it occurs in a play or a body, only the common natural elements to the "binary architectures" are evident: structure, flooring, ceilings, skin & walls, light, services, chairs, tables, windows...