DESCRIPTION OF PURPOSE
A number of buildings are distributed along the whole railroad network to furnish a space for staying, a “base camp” for tracks and infrastructure maintenance staff. The location of these Maintenance Bases may be susceptible to change as a function of
a number of factors such as personnel grouping or redistribution of lines and schedules; this is the reason behind the proposal of the construction of a prototype of a dismountable and prefabricated building.
As the challenge is to develop a dismountable building whose location may change with time, it is considered indispensable to go to an autocratic or hermetic approach to minimize the dependencies of the building with respect to the environment; for
example, it would not be reasonable to open windows towards the East if, after a change of situation, this orientation could be Westwards, thus changing advantages into disadvantages. Moreover, as the building is to be located very close to the railroad tracks, the noise contamination and the state of abandonment of the available terrain because it is inside a railroad zone, the building has to be looking at the inside to minimize the incidence of the context in the design since this context is variable and hardly attractive. On the other side, the type of work of maintenance staff which includes many hours of outdoors tasks, strengthen the idea of offering them a refuge, a closed place to give shelter to them without obviously giving up basis criteria of natural illumination
Then the problem consists in not forgetting external factors such as temperature, orientation or environment but making the design independent from these factors; it consists in taking the adequate design decisions to offer diffuse radiation instead of
direct sun exposure, interior landscape instead of outside views, formal abstraction instead of precise location. With this approach in mind and by taking into account the budget limitations, it is decided to go to an industrialized element of a longitudinal shape to optimize its shape factor while adapting it to the morphology of the plot, which is rather narrow, almost parallel to the tracks. The directionality of the building is the only factor which is guaranteed whatever would be the location of the building. Wherever this building will be mounted there will be a railroad line and the building will be attached to it. This situation of the building also defined a hierarchical variable in the façades since there will always be a back noisy façade, close to the tracks, and a front access façade farther from the tracks.
To guarantee a correct illumination of the different spaces of the building it was decided to create a number of patios to reduce solar incidence on the windows. Natural illumination is then indirect and, consequently, the influence of orientation on
the thermal behavior of the building is reduced. The patios are closed with micro perforated plates to facilitate ventilation and natural illumination during the day while during the night the internal lighting of the building radiated towards the outside
acting as a torch in the environment. The patios are closed from the outside by four sliding gates which allow the opening or closure of these spaces depending on the need for privacy or for permeability. The existence of these patios also solves three other functions:
- An external controlled landscape may be created which is independent from the environment, and which may be used by the staff at their own will (it can be an expansion zone or even a mini orchard) to get a stronger implication of the workers in their job.
- The patios are helpful in making a volumetric differentiation between three functional bodies (large room, offices and toilets and changing rooms) thus establishing the necessary modulation in any prefabrication system.
- Finally the patios guarantee a high level of crossed ventilation of all the parts of the building through the access and back patios. The existence of this crossed ventilation makes it possible to remove all the openings from one of the longitudinal façades to locate along it the lockers of the personnel, one of the essential requirements which were
established in the program of necessities. This blind façade, the only one which is really blind instead of the hermetic aspect of the building, is the one which will be oriented towards the tracks to let it work as a noise barrier. Bylocating also the lockers along this façade isolation is also increased. It is curious to point out after the building has been designed that its function is comparable to the function of the train with
several functional volumes (wagons) organized in succession and connected by a linear circulation corridor which is parallel to the longitudinal façades. Although we do not like metaphors in Architecture, the coincidence in the functioning of two analog
systems indicates a certain coherence in the design. The building is not a train but both the train and the building work in a similar way.