Romero & Vallejo

VITÁPOLIS | Senior living . Toledo

Romero & Vallejo . photos: © Ángel Segura

Vitápolis is a residential complex whose services are tailored to the social and welfare needs of senior citizens. In addition to the development’s 35 fully-accessib le independent apartments, it has community space which covers a surface area of than 1,500 m2 and includes gymnasium s, workshop s, cafeteria, meeting rooms, lounges, gardens, pools, sports facilities and allotments. The Vitápolis project looks beyond architectural considerations and sets out to deliver a solution adapted to the emerging physical and emotional needs of this section of the population.

The development does not merely provide a set of accessible housing units. It aims to create an environment which reflects the way in which users wish to live their lives: pleasant spaces that promote social interaction and spaces where users can learn, keep active, share special moments and receive treatment, while maintaining their privacy and independence.
With that in mind, we have formulated a special community space program based on their needs and put together a package of stimulating services and activities in response to their personal concerns.

The environment.
The building is located in the residential neighborhood of Santa María de Benquerencia in Toledo, surrounded by green areas and next to numerous facilities of interest, such as the health center, the municipal library, and the civic center. It is also very close to the most important commercial and leisure areas of the neighborhood and the city.
The location in this project constituted one of the most important challenges from the initial approaches. The idea was that the users would be, as far as possible, integrated into the city and the urban context, so that they could be as independent as possible in their daily lives, thus facilitating a life full of relationships and activities, beyond the center itself.

The site.
The building sits on a rectangular site, practically flat, with an east-west orientation on its longitudinal axis, surrounded by different plots on its perimeter.
It started with green areas of more than 1000m², shared with two adjoining communities, which house two swimming pools and sports areas.

The program.
The building, a longitudinal piece with five levels, develops a scheme of privacy in height, leaving the first floor, where the common areas of the building are located (cafeteria, reception, gym, meeting rooms, … etc), fully integrated into the urban context, with access to the different bordering spaces.
On the upper floors are located the apartments, complemented by other common areas (laundry rooms, living rooms, …) crowned on the roof by a large terrace, almost a square in height, with a 360-degree panoramic view of the surroundings. An infinity pool, storage areas, and bathrooms complete this part of the building, for the exclusive use of residents, friends, and family.

Composition, structure, and construction.
The building is materialized towards the exterior through a sequence of horizontal bands that open or close depending on the orientation, to protect from excessive sunlight. These bands are, on the one hand, the representation on the outside of the building’s living spaces or common areas, the real protagonists of the proposal, and on the other hand, the transitional domestic spaces (“heated terraces”).
A system of prefabricated concrete panels configures the entire exterior enclosure and the load-bearing structure on the residential levels. On the first floor, in order to free up space, the concrete load-bearing walls (which provide good acoustic insulation) are converted into a continuity of metal column frames. This structural sequence is supported and reinforced on the exterior, through the three free-standing communication cores, two stair cores, and the elevator core.

Sustainability and energy savings.
The construction system based on prefabricated concrete elements, both in the exterior envelope and in the structural elements, has reduced most of the construction waste in the construction of the building.
The building has the highest energy efficiency rating, thanks to the combination of passive systems such as the layout and orientation of the façade openings, increased thermal insulation in the enclosures, the use of the shadows cast by the building, etc., with active systems. An air-conditioning and domestic hot water production system, through aerothermal, optimizes energy savings while providing excellent thermal comfort both in homes and in common areas.
On the other hand, all the building’s installation systems (electricity, plumbing, and telecommunications) have been designed to facilitate maintenance and to be able to adapt to the new energy-saving frameworks, without any work, and in a reduced period of time. A system of closets throughout the building, both in the common areas and in the apartments, allows immediate access to the installations.

The common areas and apartments.
The program of the building has been designed to house and enhance a way of living, whose maxim is to ensure the quality of life of users from the present moment to the future, naturally assuming the passage of time and the unavoidable limitations it imposes.

Quality of life has to do, in the first place, with emotional aspects.
“…It is relationships with people that give meaning to existence”
Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt.
It is a matter of having in the building a relationship of common spaces and a program of activities that favors coexistence and relationships (living room, cafeteria, gymnasium, library, workshops, galleries, etc).
The program, in addition, has to meet functional requirements, allowing to offer a social welfare service a la carte and configurable, depending on the needs of each member.

Interior design.
The interior design aims to achieve bright and welcoming spaces.
For this purpose, the entire first floor is closed with a perimeter curtain wall system that allows great transparency towards the exterior and the gardens. Natural light is guaranteed in all the spaces, allowing you to enjoy its different shades throughout the day.
In the interior finishes, warm materials and tones have been used as a counterpoint to the prefabricated concrete elements and the exposed installation systems. The interior wall coverings of water-varnished beech, wicker lamps, ivory-colored terrazzo floors, traditional tiles in the same chromatic range, and wooden furniture complete some of the resources used to emphasize the warmth of the interior spaces.
At the entrance, the reception area stands out for its reception furniture, custom-designed by Romero & Vallejo, and clad in beech wood, combined with a large backdrop, also in beech wood, which separates the reception area from the main living room. In addition, a large backlit mirror stands out in the reception area.
On the first floor, there is also the main lounge with a fireplace, the cafeteria-restaurant, the gym, and the physiotherapy, meeting, and nursing rooms.
On the upper floors, the corridors leading to the apartments are transformed into meeting spaces thanks to the placement of benches and gazebos that surround the entire building.
On the roof of the building, there is a solarium with an overflowing swimming pool that allows admiring the views of Toledo.
For the furnishing of the common areas we have worked on the design of custom furniture pieces (tables, sofas, shelves, etc.) that are complemented by the selection of unique pieces of furniture, some designed in the studio, such as the Ruff pouf for GAN or the carpets of the Palma collection for NOWCarpets, with other references from Vitra, GandíaBlasco, Carl Hansen & Son, Expormim, Vibia, Pet Lamp…
On the fourth floor, there is a private lounge surrounded by large windows that offer views over the city.

The apartments. “living together but separate…”
The area of privacy, in this environment of relationships, is constituted by the apartments, which have been designed with the aim of achieving attractive spaces, fully accessible, well-lit, and multipurpose configuration, so that they can be adapted to the needs of each user.
With two typologies, 1-bedroom with 60 m² and 2-bedroom with 80 m², a program distribution proposal is configured that is developed through a sequence of spaces (without corridors) and special widths of openings, which guarantee full accessibility. The homes have a living-dining room with a kitchen, 1 or 2 bedrooms, accessible bathrooms, and a terrace heated by underfloor heating, which acts as an extension of the domestic space and is a transition space with the exterior. The enclosure of the terrace has a system of carpentries fully integrated into the pavement (designed specifically for this project), in order to facilitate the transit between the rooms.
The house, on the other hand, is complemented with a 24h emergency call system in the different rooms, in order to communicate any incident or emergency to the center’s staff.
Thermal comfort and energy savings are guaranteed through an aerothermal underfloor heating system in all rooms, as well as by the configuration of the building envelope, with its galleries closed to the southwest and its terraces open to the northeast. On the other hand, the terrace acts at the same time as a thermal buffer, capturing heat in winter and protecting it from the heat in summer.
The members and inhabitants of Vitapolis live in complete independence in their apartments, but they can count on a personalized service if they need it.

L o c a t i o n : Toledo, Spain. Year: 2020. S u r f a c e a r e a : 5,860 m2
C o n c e p t u a li s at io n a n d b u s in e s s
p l a n : Romero & Vallejo
P r o je c t m a n ag er: Romero & Vallejo A r c h i t ec tu re: Romero & Vallejo.
I n t e ri o r d e s ig n: Romero & Vallejo.
P h o t o g r a p h s :
Art direction: Romero & Vallejo. Photographer : Ángel Segura