Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER Córdoba in Spain by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
May 9th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Architecture is always feeding on images concealed in our memory, ideas that at some point become clear and unexpectedly mark the outset of a project. Perhaps for this reason the echoes of the Hispano-Muslim culture still present in Córdoba have unconsciously meant more than a marginal note in our project. In contrast to the homogeneity that globalized civilization seems to impose in all contexts, the Contemporary Art Center aims to interpret a different Western character, overcoming the clichés of that common expression.
Skeptical of the supposed efficiency and flexibility of the neutral and universal container so often used nowadays, we devised a building closely linked to a place and to a faraway memory. That is, a building in which each space is configured individually, in a time that is subject to transforming itself and expanding in sequences of different dimensions, uses, and spatial qualities. We have always admired the simplicity of the secret geometric laws through which Cordovan artists, craftsmen, and master builders from a remote past were capable of generating the multiple and isotropic spaces of the Mosque, the faceted complex of domes and honeycombs, the permutations of the ornamental motifs of latticework and pavements, or the rules and narrative rhythms implicit in the poems and stories of the Islamic tradition.
Just like those literary structures that include one story within another—a never-ending story—we took a system as starting point for the project, a law generated by a “self-similar” geometric pattern, originated in a hexagonal form, which contains at once three different types of halls, of one hundred fifty, ninety, and sixty square meters. Like a combinatorial game, the permutations of these three precincts generate sequences of different halls that can eventually configure a single exhibition space. The artists’ workshops on the ground floor and the labs in the upper level are contiguous to the exhibition halls, to the point that there is no strict differentiation between them: at the workshops it will be possible to hold exhibitions while using the halls for artistic production spaces. The auditorium—the “black box”—is conceived as a scenic space for theater performances, conferences, and films, or as a unique space for audiovisual exhibitions.
The Contemporary Art Center in Córdoba is not a centralized building: the center moves from one space to another, it is everywhere. It is configured as a sequence of precincts linked to a public space, onto which all the different functions of the building flow. Conceived as a place for interaction, it is a common space in which one can express and exchange ideas, see an installation, access exhibitions, visit the cafeteria, spend time in the media library, wait for a performance to begin in the black box, or maybe simply look out onto the Guadalquivir River.
The materials help to achieve the art factory character pervading the entire project. In the interior, bare walls, slabs of concrete, and continuous paved flooring establish a spatial structure susceptible to being transformed individually through different interventions. A network of electric, digital, audiovisual, and lighting infrastructures ease access to sockets and connections throughout the building. On the exterior, the building asserts its presence by means of a single material: prefabricated concrete fiberglass panels, or GRC. These clad opaque and perforated façades, along with the flat roofs and the sloping ones of the halls.
The industrialized conception of the system, as well as the waterproofing and insulation properties and the lightness of the material, help to guarantee the precision and rationality of its execution, being part of the combinatorial concept governing the whole project. The façade toward the river, a true mask that activates the exterior façade of the building, is conceived as a screen perforated by several polygonal openings with LED-type monochromatic maps behind them. Images and text, generated by computer-aided video signals, will be reflected on the river’s surface and enable installations specifically conceived for the place.
The building will be a gathering place for artists, visitors, experts, researchers, and onlookers, as in a contemporary cultural souk (a marketplace in northern Africa or the Middle East), with no evident spatial hierarchies. It will be a center for artistic creation that will narrowly link the architectural space of art with the public: an open laboratory where architecture intends to encourage new forms of expression. We are sure that the building itself, the Guadalquivir River, the present and the past of Córdoba will not only be a circumstantial presence but—as they have been for us, too—will also provoke a dialogue, similar ideas, or even a rejection. After all, are these not all responses that underlie any search for artistic expression?.
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Category: Art Center