Architect: Manuel Fonseca Gallego
Location: El Valle y Carrascoy Regional Park, Murcia, Spain
Work directions: Miguel Ángel Martínez-Aedo Ollero & Manuel Páez Blázquez (Goverment of Murcia)
Collaborators: Lidia García Soro & Vicente J. Acosta Sola (Architects), Manuel Ruiz Machuca (Technical Architect), José Ramón Negueruela Sánchez (Structure), Juan Carlos Herranz Aguilar (Instalations).
Construction: Empresa de Transformcion Agraria, S.A. Diego Sánchez Pérez.
Project date: July 2002
Completion work date: June 2005
Budget: 620.756,51 €
Photographs: Miguel de Guzmán
El Valle Visitors Centre is located in a transitional space between the district of La Alberca, close to the city of Murcia, and the main Access to the Regional Park El Valle y Carrascoy. It has been created to introduce the visitor who is interesed in environmental matters to the particular benefits of the park, wich forms part of the protected natural spaces for the region of Murcia. It deals with the topical interpretive issues, which aim at divulging all the wonders of such a fragile environment, while incorporating the demands of a new type of green tourism in Spain.
LOCATION AND CONTEXT
The Regional Park is in a coastal mountain area which has significant biological and environment diversity and important sociocultural and historical aspects. The site is situated on a slope and its shape is noticeably triangular. It borders onto a road to the southwest, on a forest track to the southeast and a pine grove to the north.
The geometrical form of the centre conditions its setting. It is located in a practically flat area free of vegetation and used as an initial platform for the building. Motor vehicles are not allowed into this area, except those absolutely necessary for conservation and maintenance. Visitors arrive mainly from the nearby car park, but there is an alternative route across the upper platform at roof level, directly to the main hall, where the information point is located.
The centre includes an administrative zone, for reception and control. A large entrance hall welcoming the visitor, offering a general view ot the natural wonders of the park, at the same time caters time for parallel activities, such a temporary exhibitions related to the surrounding environment. There is an interpretation room wich is intented for more thorough investigation of particular subjects. Finally, the projection room complements the previous graphic information with an audiovisual presentation. As back up to all the facilities there is a service zone.
The itinerary has sensitively determined the disposition of the centre, generating a platform that fills the triangular site and rises up to roof level, which gives wonderful views ot the entire valley to visitors taking that route. At the same time they can appreciate the external interpretive area, which includes an Arboretum complemented by specialised hanging gardens that have been created at the point where the border topography meets the forest track.
MATERIALS AND BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
Inside, the space are fluid and planned as a modular sequence of cubes 3,60 x 3,60 x 3,60 m., which correspond with the exposed metal framed structure, selected for its slimness, lightness and quickly assembly. The space forming part of the main access, and that continues until the secondary maintenance Access, is completely permeable and is intented to regulate the flow of visitors and permit a logical linear and sequential organization, creating a lively and dynamic space for exhibitions and general interpretation. This space es lit naturally from above via a skylight and open patios that produce an effect of alternative light and shadow, and at the same time act as dsitributive elements that allows access to the rest of the spaces.