Urban villa
6 Blocks
José Antonio Coderch | Barcelona, Spain | 1967-73
Image of 6 Blocks
Street facade, detail

Project6 Blocks
ArchitectJosé Antonio Coderch
CityBarcelona
CountrySpain
AddressCalle Raset 21-31/Calle Frixia 22--32
Building TypeUrban villa
Number of Dwellings66
Date Built1967-73
Dwelling Types2 &3 BR flats
No. Floors5-6
Section TypeFlats, point-access
Exterior Finish
Materials
Tile, wood, metal, glass
Construction TypeRC frame
Ancillary Servicesoffices, parking garage

The spatial idea of the apartment blocks that Coderch began to design in the late 1960’s was no doubt derived from earlier single family houses designed by the architect several of which were built in the Stiges area south of Barcelona. These houses were all transformations of a similar organizational and formal theme. Bedrooms, referred to as “night spaces” by Coderch, step back along a hallway that is perpendicular to a central “day zone”containing the principal living spaces of the house. The step-back organization allows light into each room while maximzing exterior wall surface. Typically, windows were placed at the corners of the stepped forms. Casa Uriach of 1961 is an example of this type. The floor plan used later in Coderch’s apartments blocks can be seen as back-to-back versions of Uriach, serviced by a central service core in buildings several floors in height. 6 Blocks was done for a local bank. It consists of 6 freestanding buildings, arranged in two rows, one 5 and the other 6 stories in height. Each has a typical stepped plan and steps back in section as well letting light into the lower landscaped levels where there are commercial spaces. There are two very luxurious 2 or 3 bedroom dwellings per floor each with a large suite of living spaces, fireplaces, service entry and domestic quarters, and large terraces overlooking the lush landscaping surrounding the buildings.

The use of wood louvers to screen windows and other openings was a feature of all of Coderch’s early buildings. A system of full-height, pivoting louvers was used here to shade windows and balconies. The screening system also includes adjustable awnings at the terraces and integral external roller blinds for the windows, reinforcing the corner emphasis in the detail development of the stepped form. The building steps back at the 5th and 6th floors where there are penthouse apartments with large terraces. The stepped idea is also expressed with the fireplace flues that extend past the roof creating roofscape dominated by chimneys an idea perhaps derived from earlier Barcelona precedents. Because windows occur only at the corners, the continuous tile walls between zones of corner glass reinforce the vertical emphasis of the building. The spaces between buildings, especially on the interior of the blocks are lavishly landscaped providing some privacy to ground floor residents, and ground floor office spaces resulting in an almost tropical ambience. The landscaping also extends to roof terrace areas as well so that the entire project seems overgrown with fragrant plant materials.

While Coderch’s earlier residences were white, modernist designs, the larger urban projects were typically finished in brick or clay tile. Coderch had experimented with stepping residential blocks before, but 6 Blocks, is an example done at a higher density and becomes the prototype for later, much denser projects, like Las Cocheras, built the following year and containing 23 similar stepped blocks, 7 stories tall and deployed as connected towers in a large, open site. These later projects also took the stepped plan idea to another level with apartment types designed for different orientations.

Coderch, J. A., J. A. Coderch 1945-1972, Xarait Ediciones, Madrid. 1978, pp. 122-27.

Hernandez-Cros, Josep Emili.; Gabriel. Mora; Xavier Pouplana,

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