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Monday, February 09, 2009

Rafael Arozarena High School, La Orotava, Spain

AMP Arquitectos complete new school in Tenerife

This building is set on a plot of land close to the historic town centre of La Orotava, blending in perfectly with the urban lay-out and the topography of the land around, relating visually with the near-by listed buildings. The school has been resolved as a plinth for the buildings located on the edge of the city centre. In the implementation of the project, consideration has been given to maintenance costs by using a very elemental lay-out, primary materials and recordable installations.

The whole blends in with the pre-existing walls of the farming terraces, where it rests on them at some points and passes over them at others, letting the land flow under the building and propitiating enclosed spaces for games or for people to gather. The plot covers a site on the slopes of the Orotava valley which used to be used for growing the traditional single crops of the area. The magnificent walls and stone paths that terrace the land remain as witnesses of the past.

The main access is from the south-east street, the only horizontal road of the network around the block, in order to provide the best access for students arriving by bus. It is also the road that that links to the largest population of potential school children. One arrives by ascending a slight ramp up to the hall floor. The porter’s office, administration offices and the library are all on this floor. The library is placed right next to the entrance so that this space is visible to the inhabitants of La Orotava and the surrounding area, when there are no classes.

Most of the high school secondary education activities take place on the two floors immediately below the entrance level: multi-purpose class rooms facing south east towards the boundary and the urbanisations containing wall, the special class rooms face the surrounding open spaces. On the floor below, one finds the science, nature and health laboratories and the sixth form computer room on one side and, on the other, the spaces used for the vocational training programmes: class rooms, departments and work shops that have to be in contact with the ground.

At the northern end, at a much lower level, is the gymnasium or sports centre, set into the hillside. The volume is partially set into the earth to minimise the size of this hall and the impact it has on its surroundings, and in order not to obscure the views over the valley and the sea from the upper terrace. The concrete finish is softened with a degraded wash of different tones to blend the building in with both the urban strata of La Orotava and the more rural nature of the south-western zones. These colour washes start from the staircase and the volume of the main entrance. The chromatic character of the building is important both inside and out, as it relates to the educational function of the centre.
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