Accesible Sport Centre – CaU Madrid

October 2008, Madrid, Spain

Madrid is aiming to become a City without boundaries. In this transformation, the Universal Accessibility Centre (CAU) plays a significant role.
We design the CAU as the flagship of this kind of building, and we create a series of principles applicable to future centres of this sort. In this centre, blind, deaf, and mute people, and persons with any other kind of physical disability, will be training together with people without any of these limitations.

Everybody will experience the building in the same way. We will not create a special circulation for those with limitations. Good visibility, very clear spaces, and a simple organization will be constant factors in the design. We organize the programme as compactly as possible and use the minimum amount of floors to minimize the use of vertical circulation, and to be able to introduce a ramp as the main connection inside the building. The elevators are not enclosed boxes but real spaces that can move up and down. Both, the ramp and the elevators, will be programmed with functions, so the activity continues while going from one place to another.

The building will be located in the Hortaleza District on a conventional plot surrounded by roads on two sides and a roundabout in front. In order to generate potential in the remaining public space, we rotate the building 30 degrees inside the lot to create four spaces related to the programmes inside. We will use the very irregular topography of the site – up to 4 metres – to plan an easy fire evacuation route for the building, providing emergency exits from every space in the CAU directly onto the street.

The Ramp and the Elevator Spaces
The ramp (> 5%) is the main connection in the building running along the three semi-levels of programme. Since it is oversized as a ramp it is transformed into a real space in the building where functions can take place: café, waiting rooms, etc…It becomes an internal street connecting the west entrance to the café and the terrace in the east. All functions can be accessed from the ramp: the pool, the big hall, the small sports rooms, etc…The provision of light is perfect, through roof openings and two large windows, which will provide delightful ventilation to each room.
The elevator spaces are platforms of 10 m2: completely open, receiving natural light, and paved and furnished just as the other spaces, where the activities can continue while going to the next level. They are placed in the main façade of the building, generating a dynamic image.

Orientation mechanisms
Our design will take into consideration all the human senses, so every user will understand the building according to his abilities. A person with a disability is a person with different abilities. The usage of different textures, light reflections, sounds, etc… makes the spaces recognisable to all.
Despite the depth of the building it is possible to obtain long visuals from every part of the building, and to look to the outside, allowing you to know where you are at any given moment.

Active principles
The western façade is conceived as an active volume containing the services, changing rooms, and showers, which will benefit from solar radiation in winter, whilst blocking out the heat in the summer. The roof is filled with the earth from the site, providing isolation as well. The pool is placed to the south catching as much sunshine as possible. The large openings in the floors will bring natural light to the deepest level of the parking garage. The structure of the administration area is oversized in order to accommodate a new floor in the future.

– – –

Title: CaU Madrid
Project name: Accessible Sports Center in Hortaleza District – Centro Deportivo Municipal de Accesibilidad Universal de Hortaleza
Date: October 2008
Type: Open International Competition
Organizer: OCAM
Participants: 78
Location: Hortaleza District, Madrid, Spain
Site: Area Intermodal de Mar de Cristal
Programme: Sports training facilities for disabled people, Offices, Medical Centre, Sport Halls, Café/Restaurant, Parking
Surface: Above ground 7077 m², below ground 10325 m², outdoor space 4872 m²
Status: Competition
Client: Madrid City Council
Budget: N/A
STAR Team: Beatriz Ramo, Simone de Iacobis, Iñigo Paniego
Consulting: Boix Pla -ProAsolutions (Accessibility)