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© Saúl Ajuria Fernández , Drone images by Matternet


Design developed by Saúl Ajuria Fernández  Photo Credit: Saúl Ajuria Fernández  Drone images by  Matternet


Designing buildings by considering the problems that will arise in the future allows us to propose new ideas that make architecture an engine of development and innovation. Starting from this approach, the aspects related to transportation and infrastructures in big cities are studied and analyzed.

The project focuses on the packages delivery activity, which is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years, due, among other facts, to the increase of online product sales. It is concluded that this increase in activity combined with the current logistics systems would lead to the collapse of infrastructure networks.

Taking into account that 80% of deliveries weigh less than 2 kg and its volume is lower than a shoe box, it is decided to propose the use of drones as transportation vehicles, which allows to achieve great benefits in terms of time and cost.

This project´s aim is to design a building that allows and optimizes the transport of goods with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in urban areas. Emphasis is placed on both the design of the necessary architecture and the generation of a new network that adapts to the existing city and makes possible this new delivery system. The project is innovative in designing new distribution systems, new elements for the reception of packages and in general, a new infrastructure network that releases the existing ones.

It was decided to locate the project in Madrid, within the South Node of the M-30 road, characterized by being a disused urban vacuum that has many potential users of the new delivery network in its range of action. Being located in a node gives the project a direct communication with the highway for a fast connection with the transit centers of the different delivery companies and, at the same time, it gives the possibility to replicate the project in other highway nodes, allowing to cover all the city center.

The South Node features the presence of the Manzanares River and three adjacent parks: TiernoGalván, Lineal del Manzanares and Madrid Rio, which are disconnected from each other. A subtle intervention is projected through a network of fast paths and slow trails linking the building and the parks. The Urban Droneport emphasizes this new connector character that is given to the lot, releasing the ground floor and giving continuity to the park.

Due to the location of the building in an aggressive, noisy and heavily contaminated environment, it is decided to isolate the Urban Droneport from the surroundings and focus it into the inner relationship, enhanced by a central courtyard, which enables the entrance of light and the visual relationship between the different floors. The location and design of the structure also goes in the same lineand allows free space inside. Likewise, the hangars contribute to the isolation from the environment by constituting the outer layer of the building.

The project is based on a process architecture, which optimizes the system's operation and contributes to boost all aspects for the development of the new infrastructure. After analyzing all the processes that will take place in the project, a spherical formalization is chosen, which makes possible a circular development in both plant and section. This favors, firstly, the distribution and management of packages and secondly, the flight of the aircraft, avoiding the appearance of turbulences.

The Urban Droneport program consists of a Logistics Center and a State Institute of Technology Development associated with RPAS. The Logistics Center is located in the lower levels of the sphere, thus ensuring a fast connection with the access roads and favoring the continuity of the parcel distribution chain to the hangars, which are located in the envelope of the building. In the upper floors is placed the State Institute of Technology Development whose aim is to generate a micro-society of research and training, in an agile and flexible work space that is able to get adapted to different needs and that is related to the Logistics Center in specific spaces.

Focusing on the constructive and structural aspects of the building, the following principles govern: prefabrication, modularity and rationality. It seeks to minimize the elements and types of joints. We opt for a metal structure with dry joints which allows both the assembly/disassembly and its expansion or modification. The building is modulated so that the details of its construction are solved with only one of its twelve slices.

The configuration of the drones’ hangars is based on industrial storage systems and are independent of the main structure, which allows the modification of the dimensions of these according to the needs. In the hangars doors, a system of concentration and expansion of the solar rays is designed. This system allows the obtaining of photovoltaic energy, thus covering much of the energy demand of the building.

To enable the operation of this new system, a new infrastructure network is designed, which, together with the Logistics Center, is adapted to the existing city. The network is based on three actions.The first one is the use of the city as a three-dimensional map that allows us to generate this new network physically disconnected from the existing ones. The second one is the installation of specific elements in the buildings that integrate the existing city with the new network. The third action is the design of new post boxes for the delivery and the pick-up of packages. The postbox respond to two casuistries: in buildings accessible by facade,individual postboxes are installed, but in those not accessible by facade, community post boxes are installed. These last ones can be located on the roof of the building or in a nearby public space.

Finally, it should be noted that this new infrastructure allows the development of other networks besides packages´ delivery for commercial purposes, such as an emergency health network between health centers and hospitals or citizen security networks.