Student Residence with Social Ambitions

New resident hall creates a place of interaction for the university community in Barcelona

Press release  04/11/2019

The new Diagonal-Besòs Campus in Barcelona is an innovation centre where internationally acclaimed education, research and technology transfers come together. An international team, Belgium based POLO Architects, project developer LIFE and Spain based Maria Diaz Blanco Architecture, boosted the campus by designing a residence for students, teaching staff and researchers. The winning competition design strengthens the campus' position as a social centre and meeting place in the centre of the Forum district, a part of Barcelona in full development.

wide range of perspectives

The new campus has become a compact urban unit. Buildings rise up like sculptures along Ronda Litoral and brilliantly symbolise what the campus wants to be: a collection of knowledge and exchanging ideas, of education and research for students, professors and researchers, in a contemporary and open environment with a promising and sustainable vision of the future.

The structure of the residence for students, teaching staff and researchers embraces a central green patio allowing daylight to enter into all corners of the building. The patio reaches all the way down to floor -1. The inner garden provides residents with shelter from urban noise. The generous entrance is an extension of the wooden deck and opens up the building to the street side with a welcoming gesture.

POLO Architects and Maria Diaz Blanco Architecture designed a living space in which required spatial limitations were turned into qualities. An overhang on the second floor ensures a smooth alignment of the buildings along Ronda Litoral. This results in an articulated building with an imposing base. Building height limitations inspired the rooftop terrace. The structure boasts interesting cross-sections with a wide range of horizontal, vertical and diagonal perspectives.

rooftop terrace with a sea view

The building contains 191 residential units accessible through outdoor walkways around the patio doubling as balconies for the units. The strategically located sanitary facilities split the compact rooms into various spaces with a view on the central patio or a street view.

Movable solar panels on the outer facade counteract the student units' repetitive nature. White painted concrete panels alternated with aluminium accents give the building its own character that simultaneously flirts with the existing structure's textures and colours.

The project offers an outdoor swimming pool and an urban rooftop terrace with sea view. The inclusion of community functions on top of residential purposes clearly shows the social ambition of this project and turns the Diagonal-Besós campus into a compact city within a metropolis.

The residence for students, teaching staff and researchers boosts the Diagonal-Besòs Campus, improves its integration with its surroundings and turns it into a place of interaction for the university community, local residents and businesses.

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download PRESS RELEASE Diagonal Besòs Student Residence

Aldo Amoretti


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Diagonal / Ronda Litoral, Barcelona (ES)

Surface Area

8.875 m²






MDBA Architects


winning competition design

ABOUT POLO Architects

POLO Architects was founded in 1991 by Mauro Poponcini & Patrick Lootens. Today, The design-focused practice with expertise in urbanism, architecture & interior design consists of a dedicated team of 110 highly skilled professionals, working in Antwerp and Brussels.

A solid firm with plenty of knowledge, architectural expertise and experience. But also, and more importantly, a beautiful group of colleagues with a work ethic driven by design, creativity and reflection.

POLO Architects is an amalgam: a creative bundle of contradictions with room for large projects (commercial, private, public) as well as (smaller) exceptions.

POLO Architects is ready to prove itself: always, together, different. A stimulating perspective.



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