Image of a building reflecting in a pool

OHLAB’s Paseo Mallorca Keeps the Heat at Bay

Through facade positioning and wooden slats, the Spanish firm delivers high performance Passive House design with local materials.

Palma, the capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca, has long drawn on several architectural influences, from the fine-tuned tracery and Islamic precedents of its Moorish rulers in the early Medieval era to the soaring Gothic and Baroque forms of the Spanish Empire. While of disparate linages, all of the inhabitants that call this island home have to accommodate its often-bristling heat and unrelenting sun. The Paseo Mallorca 15, designed by local architecture firm OHLAB, is located within the heart of Palma, and builds on lessons new and old to deliver a project that embraces the local vernacular while meeting rigorous Passive House standards.

The nine-story residential building sits on an irregular corner site, and its construction entailed the demolition of an existing six-story building. That demolition revealed that the existing structure lacked a dividing wall with the adjacent building, which required the design team to build out a temporary external support system of two counterbalanced vertical towers and horizontal metal structures. The temporary system allowed for excavation of the foundation, that, once complete, made room for the micropiles that support the concrete slab-and-beam structure above.

an axonometric sustainability diagram
image of an interior of a kitchen with floor to ceiling windows

For the primary enclosure, the design team opted for Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete panels that have been treated with a bush-hammered finish and are largely located at both sleeping and private areas as measures to increase privacy and reduce noise. “The panels covering this part of the facade, including the ground floor, come in three different types, which provide an even greater richness and diversity to the composition of the facade,” notes Paloma Hernaiz, OHLAB co-founder and director. “With these panels, we were able to achieve different textures and rhythms that create a sense of unity and equilibrium between negative and positive, while also providing a changing landscape of textures throughout the day.”

More from Metropolis

Shading that enclosure, and spaces within, is a slatted secondary facade of thermally treated wood beams sourced from Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certificate–certified forests in Northern Spain. The shading elements are located toward more public-facing elements of the interior program, such as living and dining rooms. “The carved slats are joined together using stainless steel rods and spacers, and are finished with wax-based hydrophobic cream,” states Jaime Oliver, another OHLAB co-founder and director. “The modules are secured to approximately half-inch-thick CNC-milled aluminum plates and fastened with anchors to the perimeter of the balcony cantilevers.” The use of natural materials extends to the interior of the building, where solid sinks are made of Mallorca’s Binissalem, a type of marbled limestone, and walls and portions are composed of locally sourced ceramic bricks layered with Mallorcan lime finishes.

The project’s Passive House credentials are supported through the use of thermal insulation across the building envelope, the careful sealing of thermal bridges, as well as mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, amongst other measures. Hernaiz concludes, “As a result, the client resides in a healthy environment, in a highly energy-efficient dwelling.”

Would you like to comment on this article? Send your thoughts to: [email protected]