City of Justice

Location Barcelona (Spain)
Client GISA + Departament de Justicia
Area 232.369 m²
Year 2009
Status Completed-Built
Collaborator David Chipperfield Architects
Typology Infrastructures
RIBA Awards 2010 – First Prize
World Architecture Festival Awards 2010  – First Prize
FAD Awards 2010 – Selected
Colored Concrete Works  Awards 2011 – First Prize
Photography Christian Ritchers
Team Fermín Vázquez, Francesc de Fuentes, Guillermo Weiskal, Albert Freixes, Francisco Marques, Sonia Cruz, Peco Mulet, Pablo Garrido, Albert Arraut, Antonio Buendía, Pep Áviles, Magdalena Ostornol, Niels Becker, Laia Isern, Ana Cafarro, Tosca Salinas, Elies Porta, Helia Pires, Natascha Gergoff, Carlos Fragoso, Myriam Gonzalez, Nuno Gabriel, Egbert Oosterhoff, Nicolás Perfumo, Leonardo Novelo, Laura Lluch 

The implementation of 240,000 square meters of built area in a relatively small space and in a part of the city lacking clear urban references is resolved by fragmenting the program into nine prismatic blocks of different colors and sizes, that are arranged with a certain compositional freedom, avoiding a rigid orthogonal order. The new judicial departments of the city of Barcelona and L’Hospitalet de Llobregat concentrate the activities originally distributed in 17 buildings scattered between the two cities, with the functional problems for both citizens and workers that they entailed. 

The institutional representation of justice and the problem of the colossal size of the project translate into a façade generated by the systematic repetition of identical window openings. The monolithic character of the buildings, constructed with mass-colored in-situ concrete forming structural facades of a 25 cm thickness, conveys an abstract severity that contrasts with the luminosity and flexibility of the workspaces that are located within. 

Between the buildings is a large public plaza that connects the two main access roads to the complex. Four of the nine court buildings are interconnected by a continuous and shared four-story atrium that acts as an internal street for circulation and public access to the courtrooms, while filtering access to the court offices located on the upper floors.