Puertollano (Ciudad Real) | 1996-1999


The work is located in a peripheral neighbourhood born in the sixties coinciding with the development of the city’s petrochemical industry.

The architectural environment is highly degraded, as is usual in this type of area, fortunately preserving excellent views towards the nearby mountains, in which the Monument to the Miner is distinguished, a dominant landmark over the entire city.

The site is a consequence of the land reclaimed from the old Puertollano lagoon, now artificially dried out, which has led to construction problems in the foundation.

The site today assumes the character of an urban boundary along the Madrid-Seville high-speed train track.


The 96 homes are projected in 6 blocks of dimensions of 20x20m according to the prescriptions of a Previous Detail Study that conditioned the solution beforehand.

Typological experiments were not allowed in the internal organization of the houses, accessing a duplex solution for a quarter of them.

Three pairs of blocks facing each other are designed with the symmetrical layout of the entrance around a central pedestrian promenade that, connecting the buildings, creates spaces for social encounters between neighbours.

External formal design becomes the only resource available for the creation of unique identifiable pieces in an environment without character.

The simple volumetric set is used as a working tool emphasized by the management of materials with different textures and colours. The displacement and sliding of one piece over the other, always without “biting” is used as a geometrical tool. In front of the cubic rotundity of the right angle, the curved infinity of the cylinder.

Three are the chromatic tints that make up the composition: the red of the brick seen very similar to the natural colour of the red lands of the region, the white of the limestone and the indigo of the vitrified ceramic pieces directly related to the La Mancha tradition of white and tile indigo.

A cylinder appears imprisoned inside a cube.

Each block is topped with an inverted pyramidal cover with an indigo cylinder in its centre that houses the elevator machinery, clotheslines, chimneys and everything that contributes to the chaos in the profiles of the buildings, turning these blue cylinders into benchmarks in the distant perception of this architecture.

Given the particular topography of Puertollano, built at the foot of the mountains, the roofs are perfectly visible from the Monument to the Miner, an emblematic point and obligatory viewpoint of the city. This fact makes them designed as an authentic fifth facade.

We demand the recovery of colour in architecture, and mainly glazed ceramics, as an element belonging to our Tradition.

Octavio Paz said: “To be truly modern we have to reconcile ourselves to our traditions.”

The master Barragán, upon receiving the international distinction of the Pritzker Prize, reviews the memories and impressions that had the most significant impact on the formation of his ideology. Among many other things, he said: “In alarming proportion, the words: beauty, inspiration, enchantment, magic, enchantment, colour, as well as serenity, silence, intimacy, emotion, and wonder have disappeared from architectural publications. All of them have found a loving welcome in my soul, and although far from having done them full justice in my work, they have not ceased to be my beacon”.


Project Author ESTUDIO AIA
Construction Manager ESTUDIO AIA
Location Puertollano (Ciudad Real)
Promoter JCCM
Construction Company FCC
Project date 1996
Final date of work 1999


1st Awards Project Competition