Kora Green City is an aparthotel that opened barely a year ago in Vitoria-Gasteiz, a work by the Bilbao practice A54 Arquitectos that brings the territory closer to this type of sustainable construction.
It was founded in Bilbao in 2006 and has designed Kora Green City, the Passivhaus building with the largest accommodation capacity in Europe. It is A54 Arquitectos, the studio behind this aparthotel, which opened its doors in August 2022 and was an important benchmark for sustainable architecture in the Basque Country.
A54 Arquitectos is a studio made up of three architect partners who lead a multidisciplinary team of up to eight people, two architects on staff and several external collaborators with whom they work on a regular basis: quantity surveyors, installation calculations, structural calculations, health and safety coordination, etc. Its trajectory began with commissions as a result of collaboration with other companies. Then, “the projects we were awarded through public tenders came, with which we have been able to build up our CV and accumulate experience”, recalls partner Fernando Ortega.
From there, A54 Arquitectos gained access to private clients, although it continues to work “with the same dedication and respect on both large-scale projects and smaller-scale projects for private clients”. The result of a competition was Kora Green City, but also other projects in Vitoria-Gasteiz such as the CEIP Mariturri or the IES Zabalgana. It is also worth mentioning several public housing projects for VISESA in Derio and Bilbao, and for cooperatives in Getxo and Lamiako. Also, refurbishment projects in singular buildings for their adaptation as interpretation centres, such as the Lekeitio lighthouse or the San Marcos fort in Errenteria. “We have even carried out projects in Bogotá, Milan and the Maldives”, adds the studio.
But of all of them, Kora Green City is the first Passivhaus-standard building to be built by the studio. “At the beginning, the project contemplated a building with class A certification, in which great care had been taken with the design, the materials, their origin, consumption, etc., in order to create responsible architecture from the perspective of sustainability. Afterwards, there was a phase of adaptation of this project to a passive building, which meant making quite a few modifications. For this we had the collaboration of the company MUI and the involvement of our client KATEGORA”.
The most outstanding feature is its high level of energy efficiency. “It has managed to reduce the initial theoretical primary energy consumption of the building by 76%, compared to a typical building according to the Spanish Technical Building Code (Código Técnico de la Edificación). This has been possible thanks to the passiv methodology in terms of insulation and airtightness of the thermal envelope; and the installations implemented in the building, which has been equipped with geothermal energy for heating and cooling, aerothermal energy for DHW, heat recovery, lighting control systems, etc.,” explains the partner. Kora Green City also has photovoltaic panels for self-consumption of electricity, which provide around 10,000 kWh per year. “With this reduction in primary energy consumption, CO2 emissions into the atmosphere have also been reduced by approximately 163,500 tons.
The Passivhaus standard is becoming increasingly widespread in Europe and, for the team, “is part of the profession’s unavoidable commitment to sustainable and responsible construction”. As he explains, there are other certifications in this area, “but perhaps the most prestigious, and certainly the most demanding, is that of the Passivhaus Institute. What is clear is that the short, medium and long-term benefits are indisputable. Perhaps it is not a trend, but a logical necessity”.
The Basque Country does not yet have many buildings of this kind. “Being pioneers was, in a way, a concern as well as a challenge. Even so, during the process, the studio was able to collaborate with different companies with proven experience in the manufacture and installation of passiv systems. In the development of the different phases, priority was given to choosing companies in the vicinity, with local manufacturing, which provided the lowest emissions in the manufacturing process and transport of their materials”.
The SPRI Group is one of the agents implementing the RIS 3 Euskadi strategy to promote smart specialisation in the fields of energy, advanced manufacturing, biohealth and nanoscience.