CULTURA CENTER in Almeria
location: Almeria, Spain
client: city of Almeria
project completion: 2019
budget: €1'40M - €450/sqm
size: 3,150 sqm
type: public building
This project involves the rehabilitation of the former headquarters of the Social Assistance Association of Almería, originally designed by the architect Guillermo Langle Rubio in 1935. The adaptation of this building into a Cultural Center offers the opportunity to challenge some hypotheses that advocate for re-utilizing buildings with an intrinsic historical value, embracing new programs completely different to those originally planned and, at the same time, updating and repurposing the context of the building in accordance with the demands of contemporary life.
The most important question that arises, then, is how much is necessary to update an old skin in order to bring new life and use to the building, as well as how to establish a counterpoint between the different layers of its history, which reveal a readjustment throughout time.
In accordance with these considerations, the proposal establishes a premise linked to the conservation and revaluation of the existing construction. This premise is based upon the understanding and awareness of the intervention of historical buildings and their aesthetic and urban attributes. In this sense, the building is recovered by establishing operations of continuity and consolidation of its own architectural elements. To this end, all subsequent enlargements and additions to the building were cleaned up, demolishing the superfluous and leaving the essence of the original project, reflecting the very nature of the rationalist architecture to which this building belongs.
The intervention criterion is mainly based upon the introduction of three strategic elements that include all of the serving spaces, so as not to disperse the flow throughout the building, and to function as a complement to the existing and served spaces. This avoids generating residual areas, allowing the main programs hosted by the library to enjoy the highest spatial quality.
In some cases, the elements are responsible for physically linking the different programs. In other cases, they serve as a transitional space between one program to another.
These elements aim to distinguish themselves from the original architecture by using a totally different material and construction system from the existing one. To enhance this contrast, the material used for these parts is a bright red panel composed of wood chips and pressed cement, as part of a light-weight and dry construction system to reduce the impact on the original building.
It is a minimal coating, but it is important to keep these pieces as a foreign element from the original walls, highlighting the importance of belonging to an outside language, opposite to the rationalist architecture of the rehabilitated building.
On an urban level, the building revitalizes its relationship with the adjacent public space, interacting and benefiting from one another. This is achieved by placing the cafeteria on one of the outdoor terraces, from which one can enjoy the views towards La Rambla and the city center of Almeria. By creating a central location for the meeting and enjoyment of citizens, this will undoubtedly be one of the added values of the intervention.
The attitude of the proposal towards the inner courtyard continues with the same strategy as that applied to the terraces. That is, committed to its recovery. By creating several courtyard accesses from different points of the building, it is possible to extend the use of interior rooms, allowing for greater flexibility. The real importance of generating life inside the courtyard is to convert an initially enclosed space into the collective heritage of the city.
Both terraces along with the inner courtyard are treated as an extension of public space, as a succession of routes that relate to each other generating a transition between the street and the building itself.
This rehabilitation has been conceived with respect to the pre-existing structure, rejuvenating the life of the building with minimal intervention. The added elements speak to the original context of the structure and these two languages intertwine to complement each other - the new enhancing the value of the old, and the old enhancing the value of the new.