CONVERSION OF A CONVENT INTO A MIDDLE SCHOOL

Architects: ELISA VALERO RAMOS - LEONARDO TAPIZ BUZARRA
Firm: ELISA VALERO

Abstract:
The rehabilitation and conversion into a secondary school of an old 17th century convent, abandoned and half demolished, has brought life to an ageing neighbourhood in the centre of Granada. The intervention has been carried out with minimal resources and has simply consisted in the refurbishment of the old building and the construction of a sports pavilion in cross-laminated timber (CLT).

CONDITION OF THE PLACES BEFORE THE INTERVENTION

The conversion of an abandoned convent into a secondary school has revitalised an ageing neighbourhood. The new complex did not require the use of any new land and at the same time safeguards an important heritage site that threatened to be lost due to lack of use. The building is a former 17th century convent located in the Gracia district of Granada, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC Bien de Interés Cultural). The building was abandoned after having been the Minor Seminary of San Cecilio for more than 40 Real estate speculation at the end of the last century led to the sale of part of the orchards to build blocks of flats and the demolition of the north-eastern part of the building, which was less protected as a heritage site. As a result, the interior load-bearing walls and the unfinished roofs were exposed. The interior of the block, closed and abandoned, became a residual space lost to the city. <

SIGNIFICANT PLANIMETRY AND SECTION OF THE PROPOSED INTERVENTION

The restoration and rehabilitation work has being carried out on what remains of the Minor Seminary which, after many years of abandonment, was in an advanced state of deterioration. The semi-basement floor was the best preserved, however, the upper floors had suffered significant damage caused mostly by damp, while the roof and ceilings had fallen into disrepair.The whole project was guided by a principle of deep respect for the existing, and rationality to adjust to the new functional and regulatory requirements. The new interventions are limited to the incorporation of the necessary elements: a lift, one bathroom core per floor and a new free-standing staircase. The aim was to respond to the new uses with minimal intervention, adapting to the geometry and spatial layout of the original rooms and acting coherently with the nature of their construction system. The school required the construction of a playground area and a new sports centre. For this purpose, the remaining land of the orchards has been rearranged. 

THE REALISED WORK

A lightweight structural system of CLT, cross-laminated timber with v-beams which span the whole width without any intermediate support, was chosen. The wood is left exposed on the inside with a treatment to improve its performance against fire, and on the outside it is protected with 8 cm of SATE, which guarantees insulation against the cold and heat of the weather. The geometry is adjusted to the available plot with a simple layout. This consisted in an irregularly shaped space surrounded by high dividing walls. The location comes with with strong conditioning factors. The land on which it sits is filled to a depth of 20 metres, which penalises the foundations, and the urban planning regulations allow the construction of a six-storey building. In the first phase, an open-plan pavilion was built for sports use, the foundations and structure of which had to be prepared for the future construction of five storeys above it.