The Espai Vert Cooperative

Date: Fue construida en 1986
Address:  calle C/Músico Hipólito Martínez 16
Architects: CSPT

© Manuel Cerdá Pérez

The “Espai Vert” (green space) cooperative is a residential building with 108 apartments and shops, situated in 16, Músico Hipólito Martínez street. It was built in 1986 by CSPT and administered by the Espai Vert Housing Cooperative. It resulted in a brave and controversial architectural exercise.

This building shared a common denominator with the Benlliure Cooperative: The cooperativists were offered the possibility that their future apartment did not have to be “conventional”, neither in its conception nor in its finish. To this end, they could participate, through representatives elected in a general assembly, in the supervision of the project, the control of contracts, the election of materials and periodic supervision of the realization. This interactive process between the architects and the cooperativists suggested a more social alternative to the housing market at the time, in harmony with similar propositions being developed in other parts of Spain and Europe.

The building, with its terraced apartments open to the best sun light, constitutes a forceful image on the Benimaclet skyline. That is the reason it stands at a 45 degree angle in relation to the urban layout of the barrio. This was much criticized and difficult to defend against City Hall. However, the insistence of the architects managed to give all the apartments the best climatic characteristics, thanks to this decision, which was purely bio-climatic, something that is very much in fashion today.

The bulk of the building is on an urban scale very different from what was normal in the barrio centre and for this reason it was also much criticized, as it was felt to be a barrier against the wind from the sea and the views of the farmland. Still today it is a landmark in a place that continues to be on the outskirts of the city of Valencia.

It was carried out in two phases, with prefabricated construction systems, and it is still unfinished because many of the founding members left when several project budgets were presented by different construction companies. Given its originality and complexity, it was difficult to find suitable budgets to compare with.

We have here the opportunity to enjoy a different way of doing and feeling architecture. Multiple types of apartments are clustered around an artificial mountain and common spaces, elevated streets, gardens, a swimming pool and a running track. The residents feel proud of living in a special building in which everyone enjoys particular living quarters that respond to their vital needs in surroundings unlike what can be found in any other place in the city.