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CANARY ISLANDS MUSEUM

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain 2003-2012

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CANARY ISLANDS MUSEUM

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain 2003-2012

 
Walking through the Vegueta quarter one can easily see the original urban structure of a city -Las Palmas de Gran Canaria- which has undergone several transformations in its more recent expansions. Moving through its narrow streets and passing by the traditional houses of white and ocher -colored walls, often without cornices, and marked, not always evenly, by vertical openings, latticework, and wood balconies, we discover through dark hallways unexpected patios surrounded by galleries that protect them from sunlight. From afar we become aware of the fragmented scale of its urban blocks, which, however, does not keep us from perceiving the harmony that the neighborhood has managed to maintain. This at once unitary and multiple character defining the urban fabric reflects a pattern that generates cohesion, starting from an elementary process of adding pieces of similar height, materials, colors, and openings. The Canary Islands Museum, accommodated in the original nineteenth-century house of its founder, now faced the need to undergo an expansion to accommodate new uses that the institution has acquired over the past several years.
The project had to address two contradictory circumstances: the museum needed to take up the whole city block, and at the same time, respect, in our view, the additive structure of the existing urban fabric. How to make the unitary character required by the museum program compatible with the fragmented character, as an addition of pieces, of its context? How to comply with the regulations recognizing the need to preserve specific façades and buildings without relinquishing the desire to assert the contemporary character of the intervention in the historic urban center? These questions inspired our proposal: a project that started from a process similar to the one that generated the neighborhood itself, via the addition of varied buildings most often erected at different times. We thus chose to separate the former from the latter, using bands of empty space that bring light inside, and to detach the new buildings from the old façades, allowing the uniform levels of the museum floor plans to link up with the exterior openings through large projecting windows. This generates unexpected, deep and narrow spaces that express the conflict between the house’s previous residential use and its current institutional and exhibitive role, so that in some cases the interstitial bands are auxiliary spaces and sometimes they play a key role in the new building. The exhibition spaces are articulated around a courtyard that is accessible through a hallway, a void in the interior of a dense urban block conceived as an open-air hall of the museum. Walls and concrete slabs in a white tone nuanced by the volcanic aggregates of the island wrap the volumes in an architecture whose structural, material, and spatial conception expresses the duality -compact and additive- that generated it.
Compactness and fragmentation have often been interpreted as contradictory architectural concepts, as exclusive alternatives materialized in monolithic objects or in groups whose spatial discontinuity apparently seems to justify the spirit of our time. The Canary Islands Museum project and the unexpected eventualities that have affected its development -construction in phases, façades that had to be preserved, protected courtyards or buildings- are nonetheless the result of an architecture that is far from being based on one or another model. Or perhaps, paradoxically, it is indebted to both: a project born of a simple additive process, combinatorial variations of a limited number of elements that are naturally inserted in the dense urban fabric of the historic neighborhood.
 
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CANARY ISLANDS MUSEUM

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain 2003-2012

Location
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Client
Sociedad Científica El Museo Canario
Architects
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Fuensanta Nieto, Enrique Sobejano
Program
Museum expansion
Total floor area
4.538 m2
Project architects
Pedro Quero, Alexandra Sobral
Project team
Vanesa Manrique, Nina Nolting, Juan Carlos Redondo, Sebastian Sasse, Olaf Syrbe
Site supervision
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Fuensanta Nieto, Enrique Sobejano
Miguel Mesas Izquierdo, José Mena
Structural engineer
B.C.P. Ingenieros, S.L.
Mechanical engineer
Geasyt, S.A.
Models
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Photographs
Aurofoto, S.L. (models)
Project dates
Competition: 2003
Design: 2008
Completion: 2012 (1st Phase)






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CANARY ISLANDS MUSEUM

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain 2003-2012

Monograph NS. 2014
Fuensanta Nieto Enrique Sobejano Architetture
Published by Electa Architecttura. Milan, Italy
Authors: Fuensanta Nieto & Enrique Sobejano
ISBN: 978-88-9180-228-6
Page: 48 – 53

Monograph NIETO SOBEJANO. MEMORY AND INVENTION. 2013
Published by Hatje Cantz Verlag. Ostfildern, Germany
Authors: Fuensanta Nieto & Enrique Sobejano
ISBN: 978-3-7757-3619-0
Page: 189 – 197

Magazine SPEECH nº 10. 2013
Published by SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov. Moscow, Russia
ISBN: 978-3-86922-071-0
Article: You have to find a balance. Interview Enrique sobejano
Author: David Cohn
Page: 197 – 225

Magazine FUTURE ARQUITECTURAS nº 6. 2007
Published by Future Arquitecturas, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1885-8228
Page: 90 – 101

Catalogue INVITRO. 2006
El Concurso de arquitectura en la ciudad histórica
Published by COAS /FIDAS. Sevilla, Spain
ISBN: 8493373842
Article: Atrapar el cielo y mirar
Author: José Ignacio Sánchez-Cid Endériz
Page: 164 – 169

Magazine EL CROQUIS nº 119. 2004
Work Systems / Sistemas de trabajo
Published by El Croquis Editorial. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0212-5633
Article: The Intermittent Project (Fiction and Invention)
Page: 266 – 301

Magazine AV PROYECTOS nº 001. 2004
Published by Arquitectura Viva, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1697-493X
Page: 18 – 19

Magazine PASAJES DE ARQUITECTURA Y CRÍTICA nº 51. 2003
Published by América Ibérica. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1575-1937
Page: 10

Magazine AREA nº 69. 2003
Published by Il Sole 24 Ore Business Media srl. Milan, Italy
ISSN: 0394-0055
Page: 163

Magazine ARQUITECTURA VIVA nº 91. 2003
Published by Arquitectura Viva, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0124-1256
Page: 15

Magazine EL MUSEO CANARIO 2ª Época nº 8. 2003
Published by El Museo Canario. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
ISSN: 0211-450X
Page: Cover, 12 – 13

Magazine BASA nº 27. 2002
Published by Colegio de Arquitectos de Canarias. Spain                                                                                                        
ISSN: 0213-0653
Page: 100 – 105
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CANARY ISLANDS MUSEUM

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain 2003-2012