Modulus Matrix: 85 Social Housing in Cornellà

Modulus Matrix: 85 Social Housing in Cornellà

Award RIBA International Awards for Excellence 2024 | Peris + Toral Arquitectes (AxA)

A ground-breaking, six storey courtyard building of 85 flexible, socially rented homes in Barcelona using timber frame construction.  

This pioneering project in Barcelona, using timber construction, was born from a progressive brief in 2016, and has transformed the client’s approach to the design and construction of social housing in Spain. Five years post-completion, this rational, well-detailed architectural framework has fostered a strong sense of neighbourliness and sense of pride in its resident community.

Using the tatami mat module of 3.6 x 3.6m, the building is planned around a simple, central, communal courtyard, with four circulation cores in each corner. Galleried access overlooks the courtyard on all upper floors, with a layer of inhabited and continual private balconies wrapping the external four facades.

The plan of each floor is described as a ‘matrix of communicating rooms’, all structured around the 3.6m module, creating generous and flexible arrangements for each home. 

Modulus Matrix is a project of subtle significance. Through the use of timber in its construction, no welded joints, refined detailing and a consistent dimensional module throughout, has created a sophisticated framework for life and evolving inhabitation. Its client, architect and community are rightly proud of this achievement and it represents a model for sustainable social housing projects elsewhere in the city.

The key benefits of environmental, social, and economic sustainability have been supported by each aspect of the design and the result is a layered and rigorous architectural feat on a very low budget.

Each home, and its relationship with its neighbour is considered, despite the rational and repetitive nature of the plan, and simple mesh screens and Barcelona shutters give privacy and shading.

There is somehow a looseness of fit, giving flexibility within the home, which enables life to spill out on the balconies and galleries, as with all well-designed housing. This bodes well for the future of this impressive prototype.