Alcolea's Team Wins Competition at University of Málaga

rendering of a courtyard with palm trees and open space with sidewalks surrounded by an elevated white building
Alcolea and his team's courtyard rendering for their winning project proposal at University of Málaga.
photographic documentation, ariel perspective of a wood and 3D-printed site model for competition entry
Alcolea and his team's site model of the winning proposal for their project at University of Málaga.
May 15, 2017

Rubén Alcolea, visiting professor in architecture, and his associate Jorge Tárrago were awarded the top prize for their team's design for a multi-building project at the University of Málaga in Spain. Alcolea and Tárrago are coprincipals at their Pamplona-based firm, alcolea+tárrago. For the competition, they formed and led a larger collaborative team of architecture and engineering offices, including the architects Roberto Ercilla, Jokin Lecumberri, and Antonio Cidoncha.

The University of Málaga released the project brief in spring 2016 and the group collaborated for several months before submitting their design that includes a substantial government pavilion for administrative offices, an 800-seat auditorium, a separate open-air auditorium, and parking for 240 vehicles. According to the team's statement, they prioritized strategies that would balance resources in order to make their proposal sustainable. The overall design balances buildings that are both strong in presence and service-oriented with flexible outdoor spaces that are intended to function much like a public patio or courtyard.

"The proposed buildings will be located at a university that nearly 35,000 students attend," says Alcolea. "[The buildings] needed to be both highly functional as well as representative of their institution, so we decided to reference the cloister typology that has been seen at many European universities throughout history including Cambridge University and the Sorbonne."

After several phases of review, the team was notified that their entry was selected in March. "There were a number of other strong entries from major offices with excellent teams, and the specs for this brief were particularly complex, so the win is a great success after much preparation," commented Alcolea. "Leading the project from here will be exciting as we grow our team of collaborators, engineers, and landscape experts to meet the distinct challenges of working with a major public client which will likely make each phase of the process very intense from start to finish."

Alcolea and the team are currently working with the university on preliminary adjustments to the plans in preparation for their final submission this fall. Upon approval, they will begin selecting contractors and hope to begin construction in the summer of 2018.

By Edith Fikes