Desert City is a celebration of xerophytic plants and the production of a whole culture of interests and events around them. The project proposes an commercial, educational, sustainable and ecological complex in which to overlap activities that range from the exhibiting, growing and breeding of cactus from all over the world in a large garden and greenhouse, to housing an array of leisure activities such as presentations, small conventions, workshops or exhibitions. The large building contains, besides the greenhouse and exhibition/sales space, restaurant, shop, storage, and office areas.
These activities are sheltered by a lightweight container that responds, in terms of scale and materiality, to the near presence of the A-1 Highway. A “billboard-building”, parallel to the road, and acting as a filter between the harsh and infrastructural condition of the highway and the limit of the huge green pocket formed by the Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares, on the other side. The complex is structured internally by a sequence of symmetries organized around a cloister-like cactus garden, which receives newcomers, and the greenhouse space, covered by a cable roof designed according to the logic of tensegrity structures.
Despite its hybrid program, the complex’s construction is systematized through repetition, modulation and prefabrication of elements, resulting in a huge abstract stretched out skeleton that communicates its intense inner workings and the veiled presence of greenery as seen from the passing car through a tinted, watery glass facade. Construction incorporates sustainable solutions such as transparent photovoltaic glass, geothermal power, water recovery systems, solar controls, and extensive plantings in the site, originally a wasteland.
PROJECT: Xerophytic plant greenhouse and garden + I+D programme + ludic-educational programme + restaurant
STATUS: Under construction (2015-17)
CLIENT: Desert City S.L.
LOCATION: San Sebastián de los Reyes, Madrid
ARCHITECT: GARCIAGERMAN ARQUITECTOS
TEAM: Jacobo García-Germán, Marta García Jiménez, Laura Carrero, Miguel López, Raquel Díaz de la Campa, Lidia de Lucas, Martha Sosa Dias, Andrea Gutierrez, Victoria Álvarez, Margot Roset, Paula Lizcano, Marta Roldán, Celia Sánchez Ylla
CONSULTANTS: Antonio Usero (strategy and management), Mario García (quantity surveyor), Felipe F. Sanz/Consult-E (structural engineer), Úrculo Ingenieros (mechanicals), Arenas Ingenieros (structural engineers greenhouse roof), Lastra & Zorrilla (tecnical development & manufacture ETFE textiles), Patricia Gammichia (landscaping), Ángel Sampedro (mobility project & traffic studies), Alberto Charlez (site manager)
BUILDER: Isolux Corsán
He has taught in Universidad Javeriana Bogotá (2007-2009), FebelCem Antwerp (2008), Lasalle Tarragona (2009), Escola da Cidade Sao Paulo (2010), Architecture Faculty Ljubljana (2010), Católica de Lima (2012), Escuela de Arquitectura de Pamplona (2012), and Camilo José Cela (2003) and UPSAM (2012) Universities in Madrid. He is co-founder of the Symmetries (symmetries.es) teaching platform for workshops & congresses; Split (2011), Rome (2012) and Lisbon (2012). He is Teaching Curator for Arquitectura Ibérica, Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad (2012-).
After working in the office of Rafael Moneo (1998-2001), he established GARCIAGERMAN ARQUITECTOS (garciagerman.com) in 2003, an office devoted to the exploitation of practical opportunities connecting the fields of education and research with those of building activity. The office has obtained 14 national or international prizes and its built work has won Prizes in the Madrid Town Hall’s Architecture and Urbanisms Prizes in 2001 and 2007. Europan 9’s First Prize Nacka Rings project has been selected as one of the 28 best realizations of Young Spanish Architecture at the Arquía/Próxima Forum 2008. In 2009, the experimental housing project Prototipo Periférico Nº2 was selected for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2009. The office’s work is currently exhibited in the Galería de Arquitectura El Croquis in El Escorial, Madrid, and has been included in different collective exhibitions.
Jacobo García-Germán has curated the exhibitions APFC-ASAP (Madrid ETSAM, 2010) and Madrid Arhitektura (Ljubljana T5 Project Space, 2010) presenting the collective academic results of his teaching activity. He has lectured in different forums and institutions worldwide and his texts and works have been published in specialised books and magazines (Oris, Verb-Actar, Arquitectura Viva, Arquitectos CSAE, Pasajes, CIRCO, On Diseño, AArchitecture, BAU…).