Plaza Ecópolis: A sustainable community centre with a light steel structure

Located on a 7500 m² plot in Rivas Vaciamadrid, a community on the outskirts of Madrid, Plaza Ecópolis consists of a kindergarten, a common room, and the actual plaza and was designed by the architectural office Ecosistema Urbano. The main building has a lightweight metal structure made of steel tubes enveloping the interior space.

Detailed information

An artificial landform has been created on the perimeter of the site. Enclosing the plaza space, it serves as a filter against heavy lorry traffic and a harsh industrial environment, making it easy, when within, to forget the urban surroundings.

A lightweight steel structure

The gross surface area totals 3000 m², of which approximately 50% is semi-subterranean. The main building extends towards the square in the form of a lightweight metal structure made of steel tubes enveloping the interior space. An adjustable fabric canopy is spread over this structure, which allows it to adapt to the various angles of the sun. By means of this bioclimatic element, an almost invisible transition between the exterior and interior is achieved, extending the comfortable atmosphere inside the building into the public space.

The metal structure was factory-manufactured and erected on site by Emetal S.A. It consists of square and rectangular tubes, all supplied by ArcelorMittal, serving as pillars and beams respectively.

The technologies employed in the project create an integrated design tailored to the surrounding climatic conditions. It primarily relies on passive environmental control systems, such as the adjustable fabric canopy in order to minimise consumption of energy and natural resources. Active energy efficiency systems have been incorporated into the design in order to achieve the most efficient energy rating.

Taking care of the environment

Plaza Ecópolis was designed with the aim of educating citizens about energy saving and the optimisation of natural resources by incorporating ecology into daily life. The project also demonstrates that a building constructed in accordance with environmental criteria need not be synonymous with an additional financial investment. In fact, its construction cost is considerably lower than that of any conventional building. The total construction cost was €2 700 000, resulting in a cost of €700/m² for the building.

Project information

  • Rivas Vaciamadrid - Madrid
  • Spain
  • Architect:
    Ecosistema Urbano
  • 2010
  • Client:
    Ayuntamiento de Madrid
  • Engineering office:
  • Constructor:
    HM. S.A.
  • Steel structure:
  • Photographers:
    ©Emilio P. Doiztua, ©Emetal