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Communal Tower in Granada, Spain

Part 1 Project 2014
Julia Kubisty
Kingston University, UK
The project’s aim is to provide a home for a community of eleven families but also to respond to the broader issue of how the contemporary city of Granada can actively coexist with its great monument – the Alhambra.
The prominence of the towers of the Alhambra in the city’s skyline provided a starting point. Their simple, orthogonal silhouettes contribute greatly to the Alhambra’s visual character. Closer examination reveals that the stark, monolithic exteriors of these primarily defensive structures contain sophisticated residential interiors. Intrigued by its double identity, urban and human, I decided to transplant the typology of the tower from the Alhambra to a site located over a kilometre away, sandwiched between 19th century townhouses and 1980’s residential developments.
Upon imposing the pure geometrical form of the tower on an irregular and constrained site, the driving force of the project became to reconcile ‘the object’ with its immediate context while retaining its symbolic form which establishes a connection with the monument visible in the distance. The tower, located in the centre of the block, became a source of an orthogonal grid which collided with the irregularity of the site boundary as it reached the adjoining streets.
As a result, three ‘satellite houses’ grew around the tower. As opposed to the perfect square in the centre, the plans of the houses, initially aligned with the grid, became distorted and morphed to adjust to the complex boundary of the site. Apart from the ground floor which is commercial across the site, the houses are solely residential. The tower, on the other hand, houses both private and communal spaces as well as a public rooftop which offers a generous view of the Alhambra from its north-east corner. There are two staircases located in opposite corners of the tower, one private and the other public, allowing access to the rooftop within opening hours agreed upon by the community. This way the piece of ground occupied by the tower in given back to the city.

Julia Kubisty


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