BOX IN THE BOX, a refurbishment project with a distinct identity

box-in-the-box-arquitectura-arenas-basabe-palacios-more-with-less-010The refurbishment of old industrial premises, along with its change of use, has become a common practice in the development of contemporary architecture in recent years. Nevertheless, there are still some projects of this kind that catch our eye. This is the case with BOX IN THE BOX; a renovation project carried out by the Spanish architecture firm Arenas Basabe Palacios which turns an old warehouse, located in the suburbs of Madrid, into a cultural and sports association for young students.



BOX IN THE BOX maintains the existent structure system, as well as its industrial character, but introduces two new elements to define the new architecture and use. From the outside, a new ventilated façade composed of aluminium sheets welcomes the visitors and makes the building stand out within its surroundings. Thanks to a series of perforated and adjustable shutters, the rearranged window openings can be closed or completely open depending on the needs of each moment and activity, thus changing the appearance of the building to the public space.


However, the actual design strategy –and after which BOX IN THE BOX was named- lies on the introduction of a programmatic box inside the pre-existent volume. A huge wooden box made of OSB panels that houses the architecture service program: communication, hall, toilets, storage room and technical installations. Thanks to this element it is achieved to create a visual identity for the circulation and service spaces that give access to the different rooms and sports facilities organised along the four heights of the building.


BOX IN THE BOX is characterized by the introduction of a wooden core that communicates and distributes the new cultural programbox-in-the-box-arquitectura-arenas-basabe-palacios-more-with-less-07


The access to BOX IN THE BOX is made through a wide double-height entrance area. An open space in between inside and outside that lets us see the materiality of THE BOX and which acts as a meeting point for users and visitors as well as a spontaneous playground. Once inside, besides the great variety of spaces and uses –sports court, events hall, meeting room, classrooms, offices, etc. – we can perceive a homogenous and unitary character thanks to a neutral palette of materials and finishes. Thus, continuous concrete floorings and white walls, along with light translucent closings, generate a bright and ethereal ambiance in contrast with the strong texture and presence of the OSB core.


Photos by Imagen Subliminal