Architects: Estudio Arquitectura Hago - Sara Gutiérrez, Javier Monge, Antonio Álvarez-Cienfuegos, Aurora Monge
Location: Benalup-Casas Viejas, Cádiz, España
Cost: 1.130.779,20 €
Project area: 1,024 sqm
Project year: 2006 – 2009
Photographs: Jesús Granada
The Interpretation Centre Cadiz Prehistoric is a reference to the prehistory of Cadiz. The new building contains an exhibition that shows several characteristics of that historic time. At the same time it is the starting point of different archaeological routes.
The building is located in the Benalup-Casas Viejas, Cadiz, a small town close to the coast in the Parque de los Alcornocales. The identity of the site is given by a natural environment in which the intense green of the trees is the main characteristic. The varied topography where it is set allows it to get different perceptions of the close and distant elements, providing the urban landscape with a green horizon.
The condition of the environment in terms of the adjacent buildings, each with different heights, forms a poor quality environment in the architectural context. The building addresses this situation by using the landscape as a reference by adopting a resounding exterior presence and leaving the surprises for the interior.
Externally, the building hides the walls of the adjacent architecture and keeps the alignment of the street, with a small setback, emphasizing the entrance. Any decorative element in the composition of the facade disappears showing only a unique void with dark glass. This void works by reflecting the landscape from the outside as well as capturing it from the inside, integrating the building into the natural environment. The resulting white volume fits with the traditional buildings of the context. Only the material used in the base, black undulated metal sheet, will show the contemporary character of a public building.
Inside the building, the light will appear through the courtyard and through a skylight which bathes the lobby.
The uncomfortable solar geometry is regularized through empty elements such as the courtyard or the main hall, adopted in an orthogonal method.
The routes are organized from a ramp that leads down from the outside to a small hall, which works as a diaphragm that invites the visitor to enter to the lobby, consisting of double height naturally lit.
The exhibition route begins on the ground floor and goes down into the basement through an open staircase, illuminated by the courtyard. In the basement two different areas are placed. On one side of the stairs the workshop room and the courtyard are located, which will be used as an exterior work space. On the other side, the first exhibition room is placed. The start of the route runs linearly through a second staircase which will lead the visitor to the higher levels, all of them illuminated artificially. The route concludes on a balcony on the top floor that shows the entrance hall downstairs, illuminated by natural light.