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  6. SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio

SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio

  • 01:00 - 18 May, 2009
SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio
SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio

SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio +75

  • Location

    Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

From the architect. Spanish architects Ensamble Studio shared with us their building for the SGAE Offices in Spain (the equivalent to the RIAA in the USA). Once again, Ensamble Studio shows us an impressive use of mass, using stacked stone slabs to create an intermediate space with filtered light. It also has a wall built with used CDs on the inside.

The SGAE (General Society of Authors and Publishers) Central Office in Santiago de Compostela, is located in Vista Alegre property, a privileged site with intermediate scale between a private garden and a public green area, from where the skyline of the historical city can be glimpsed. The project for the development of the plot was designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, and contemplated the construction of a series of buildings with academic purpose, most of them already built. The SGAE Central Office situated in the west limit of the site completes the intervention in Vista Alegre and defines its boundaries.

The architectural conception of the building incorporates the spirit of the city of Santiago developing a singular identity and entering a dialog with the history and memory of the place, as well as a close relationship with contemporary language.

The program includes not only social activities for the attendance of authors and publishers, but also a wide range of public cultural activities. It is divided into four functional areas distributed in four levels respectively: Diffusion, Formation, Public Area and Management, with accesses from the garden and the street. Three thousand square metres in total constructed to serve the city and its artists.

The SGAE central office expresses its will to become part of the perimetral wall of the property both by its location and longitudinal layout adapted to the border of the plot. The building puts forward the confrontation of three walls which run along a space of varied constructive, material and perceptive scales. A stone wall looking into the garden, an interior wall made of CDs and a translucent glass wall facing the street. They all work as filters of the different urban situations delimiting and organizing the program in functional strips.

The great stone wall, can be thought of as a monumental sculpture, constructed by the superposition and repetition of prehistoric orders adapted to a Renaissance broken composition. The Mondariz Grey stone facade components appear in one of their purest forms, as irregular ashlars of variable geometry and size, selected directly from the quarry overage, and ordered in permeable strips that manipulate the South light breaking it on the inside. This sculptural content causes the disintegration of the building as such, going beyond its mere symbolic and functional dimension within Vista Alegre property: the building becomes aware of the place and integrates; it stands as a representative background of the site.

The interior CD wall is a plane placed in between the outer curved elements: stone wall and glass wall. It represents the chord which draws the arc described by them and grants the scale of the space confined between walls. Its material composition and quality make it appear like an impressive stained glass window with different degrees of transparency, a wall made of color and light, in clear contrast with the nature of the opposite stone wall.

The translucent glass wall offers a discreet face to the street, controlling the light and views of the spaces inside, according to their activity and needs.

The building arches, widens and narrows, by the interaction of these three elements, generating fluid multivalent spaces, such as the porticoed street defined by the stone wall and the CD wall; a space that roots the building directly to the city of Santiago. Walking through it, the user experiences the compression of the space in the centre, where the main entrance to the building is located, and a progressive expansion to the ends where the space opens to the landscape and frames it, generating two viewpoints.

The building then becomes a street, an urban space inside a garden, which reactivates the site bringing vitality and dynamism to the atmosphere. And it also becomes a stone wall, thought of as both boundary and background, that fences in the garden and develops the use of a material which belongs to the place: stone.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio" 18 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
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Jose Pico · July 03, 2011

No todo es mierda en la SGAE, aunque ¿Justifican los medios el fin?. Sede SGAE en Compostela. ArchDaily

Jose Pico · July 03, 2011

La SGAE en Santiago de Compostela. Ensamble Studio | ArchDaily

arkias arquitectura · June 18, 2011

Buena Fachada mal interior, pedia mas SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio @arquitectos

USCTrojan90 · January 20, 2011

I will admit at first when looking at this I thought it was just a glorified tunnel with the entire project submerged under the ground plane. However, then the plans and sections popped up and I am still a bit taken aback. This project is simply phenomenal. On the side facing the urban context, they used a more subtle approach to keep the population from even being able to voice objections to such a powerful move (which unfortunately happens when common people do not appreciate beautiful architecture), and then simply blew it away with the facade facing the park. This project better be up for nomination for building for the year...

As a student I will take notes of the various moves used in this project. Its projects created by architects like this, that inspire young lads like myself. Keep up the good work archies.

fab · January 22, 2011 09:34 AM

there is nothing subtle on the other side, it is a huge wall towards the street, a big "backside", or left over, what ever, look again the model, you see the urban context, the continues facade of the older building constructing the border of the park, its a gross wall cutting off the park,, the border walls ar far too high, it seems to be a park but no public access, it blocks the view from the street as well, its all enclosed by a wall, urban treatment is terrible, nominating such sculptoric superficial architecture will be a mayor drawback for urban considerations, architecture is not about having or not the budget for extravagant stuff, this project is a huge move away from what it is about, it has no consideration for the existing buildings and not even for the pedestrian...

Kurniawan Agung · January 20, 2011

SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio | ArchDaily via @archdaily

aba bauleitungsbüro · December 13, 2010

RT @Architektourist: Interessante Fassadengestaltung bzw. -konstruktion

Architektourist · December 13, 2010

Interessante Fassadengestaltung bzw. -konstruktion

Christoph Kapeller · December 12, 2010

Ensamble Studio: Santiago de Compostela: #architecture

Nishimura Tsubasa · December 12, 2010

?????...SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio | ArchDaily via @archdaily

Nishimura Tsubasa · December 12, 2010

?????...SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio | ArchDaily via @archdaily

up_today_arch · December 11, 2010

The entire look is terrific... But, is it strong enough for earthquake?.....

michelle m. kruzel · October 31, 2010

Striking and interesting bldg - SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela / Ensamble Studio | ArchDaily

Olly · July 10, 2009

A reflection on architectural spolia, at last.

s · June 26, 2009


fab · May 25, 2009

Quite simple: If you consider architecture as some kind of material philosophy or so you will love it, but if you consider architecture something related to how inhabit constructed space, its a waste of stone.

Lucas Gray · May 24, 2009

Absolutely Beautiful! Ensamble studio is doing some fantastic work.

No a SGAE menudos ladrones · May 22, 2009


me · May 20, 2009


David · May 20, 2009


francis · May 20, 2009

Dear Carlo, first bit of sensible thing you've typed, no? Think about it ... the penny (or something else very small but significant) will eventually drop. Goodbye and get the rest/break you deserve. All the best.

Carlo · May 20, 2009

...give it a rest... give me a break...i guess i got mixed up. either way leave me alone.
besides, shouldn 't you write something about the building instead of typing nonsense?

francis · May 20, 2009

Dear Carlo, it was precisely "unclear" that bungabulunga queried ... yes, I do read before I ask. Rest? What's that?

Carlo · May 20, 2009

that quote was addressed to bungabulunga, who left a comment, reacting to my older comment, which has plenty of arguments that underline my critique. please read the whole comment history and give me a rest.

francis · May 20, 2009

Dear Carlo, who's arguing? Plausible? Besides, what has a movie character got to do with this forum?

Carlo · May 20, 2009

@ francis, i think my opinion is quite clear, and the arguments in my comment are plausible. you are welcome to add your argumentation to the discussion.

francis · May 20, 2009

Dear Carlo, In reference to ... "let’s answer like the big lebowski: “yeah? well, that’s just your opinion, man!” ... therefore, I would like to know if you are capable of your own? By the way, THE DOODE wants payment for his using his quote, and he thinks you're a DUD!

Carlo · May 20, 2009

of course it' s excessive and for an important town like santiago de compostela, being a destination of pilgrimages it' s even more an affront. in my eyes it represents the blind speculative tendency in the real estate sector of spain in the past 5-10 years. the main goal was for a long time to create expressive, spectacular architecture to attract tourists. (valencia, madrid...) today spain finds itseld immersed in a hangover mood, where the crisis struck harder than in other european countries. i hope that this phase influences future projects in a positive way.

Legend · May 20, 2009

isn't it all a bit excessive?

dao · May 20, 2009

i love the rock wall that used, its strange and impressive

Ceno · May 20, 2009

I don't like the interiors (material inside,stairs,quality of the room) but I really love the architecture, its like combining the past in the back and the future in front

Carlo · May 20, 2009

let' s answer like the big lebowski:

"yeah? well, that' s just your opinion, man!"

Ulises · May 20, 2009

The Bluff Stone Wall seems to be completly absurd.They have very good projects, this is not one of them. I try to understand why some people posted: MASTERPIECE!.


bungalabungala · May 19, 2009

pardon me for the type-os Bo lucky, here it is

Carlo and Bo Lucky, I am really sad that your views on architecture tend to go the money it is going to be spent. I think that you lack anaylisis, do you seriously think there wont be any shadowos or light in the project? Did you not look at the picture of the auditorium? I think that you have greatly misunderstood the project, and that in an efoort to find somethign wrong with the project you wrote those comments. Thi si s a great building and it must be really amazing to walk its halls, and spend some time in that auditorium

Bo Lucky · May 19, 2009

Can you write your posts in English? It's hard to grasp an essence of your comments...

bungalabungala · May 19, 2009

Carlo n Bo lucky, i am really sad that ur views on architecture tend to go to the money its going to be spent, or teh lack of anaylisis, do you there wont be any shadows and light in teh project? did u not see de picture of the auditorium? i think that uve greatly misunderstood the project and that trying to find somethitn gwrong with it u wrote ur comments. this is a great building and it most be really amazing to walk its halls, and sit in that auditorium.

Carlo · May 19, 2009

what is this, an attempt to reinvent stone henge? it' s a quite trivial and superficial
interpretation of archaic elements of architecture. from a typological point of view it' s nothing else than a porticoed as we know it from italian cities, which function is to invite people to walk under a roof and to shop in the attached stores. a beautifully urban expression, but what we have here is a game with duplo (big lego elements) that doesn 't create any interesting spaces.(in between)
in fact the highly ambitioned light effect is missing. the stone elements are simply too big too allow a play of lights and shadows. The interior spaces do not profit from that "translucent" element and could be the same as in any other office building in the world.
let' s compare this mess with a building of herzog de meuron, the dominus winery in napa valley, where the facade is also a pile of stones, which are carefully positioned. the light and shadow effects are complex and interesting :


these pseudo "assemblage" of stones is simply banal, unsufficiently thought-out and an impertinence towards the environment.

Bo Lucky · May 19, 2009

It's definitely a strange structure that makes some kind of a statement. It is however not entirely clear what this statement could be... it is likely that a construction cost was way higher than for a traditional building - is there any return for the price attached to having such the statement? I have some doubts whether the office layout meets contemporary office standards and a concern about a building behavior under extreme stress (say some kind of an accidental - or not - nearby blast).

Lu · May 19, 2009


Lite · May 19, 2009

I'm speechless!
It's a masterpiece!
Welcome back architecture!!

francis · May 19, 2009

Music: rocks! No? Ok, I shall refrain from such notes. It is another robust challenge to our senses by Ensamble Studio; and while it is a fitting addition to their design for the Music Centre within the same park published here earlier, this has the danger of being read as the sort of cosmetic postmodernism prescribed by Charles Jencks. Not literally loose or lost as it was but no less metaphorically. It is possibly they are doing a form of “consequentialism” … basically, the end justifies the means.
Difficult not to be drawn to the robust use of raw quarry stones in their projects; they remind me of the grandiose projects of an age past where an entire quarry is designated to achieve the ambition. It is a luxury to savour and I am glad to be titillated by this occasional apparition. Again, the methodology is first rate; and the publishing much to be thankfully for. The steelwork drawings are treats!
The completed elevation facing the “street” is more successful than shown on the model. It is pleasing to see, and tells me that while the work from Ensemble Studio may look “raw” or slap dashed, they are constantly refining and bringing order to the chaotic. However, they do not tip the scales, if that make sense?
Finally … it must be a “blast” (ola?!! geez) to work at Ensemble Studio.

U_ · May 19, 2009


U_ · May 19, 2009

Honek narrua fatxadako harrien besteko gogorra dute!

Luka · May 19, 2009

this really is something else

Balkan · May 18, 2009

This is very nice project. Love the use of stone where something massive has been put to create a shader of promenade.
Indeed very good

Josep · May 18, 2009

I'm in love with ensamble studio's work!
A couple years ago Cayetana Nicanor introduced me to their work and very glad she did!
Very impressive!

TEAM-X · May 18, 2009

This wall a metaphorical vision about the future of captalsim...?


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