Madrid 2014 - Mirador Residence

Very few visitors would venture to see a public housing project, but since we were on an architectural tour that was exactly what we did. Located in Sanchinarro - a suburb on the northeast edge of Madrid, this project has received international notice since it was completed in 2005.

This complex was designed by MVRDV - a Dutch firm based in Rotterdam. They have completed a number of innovative public housing projects in the Netherlands, and the Mirador reminded me of their Silodam housing project in the Amsterdam Docklands.

The most distinctive feature of the housing block is the large opening in the building. This accommodates a communal space with a great view. There are also many other MVRDV signatures - such as the stacking of different blocks to form the overall composition - and the use of different colours and materials to articulate different elements and functions in the design.

It is always impressive to visit a project such as this - which is a public project with an obviously very tight budget. Much care has been invested to create something unique and memorable - instead of another mundane public building. Governments in Asia could learn a lot from what the Europeans are doing.


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