While all eyes may be locked on the Shard’s latest push toward the sky, Renzo Piano is preparing for his first major Spanish project to officially break ground in about one week in Santander. The Botín Foundation, the largest private foundation in Spain, will invest over 150 million USD for the construction and programming of a new Botín Center that will become an international reference in culture and education for the development of creativity through art. The building will inform a new cultural axis to connect the best art circuits in Europe and will serve as a cultural catalyst to bridge the community with art. Emilio Botín, President of the Botín Foundation, is confident the Center will establish a new community space and link the city with the bay. ”To accomplish it, we have called on the best architect in the world. The architect, who best knows how to link cities to the sea, to build urban spaces, and to generate magical places where art may be enjoyed,” explained Botín.
More about the project after the break.
The Center will occupy the area of a current parking lot in the south west area of the city of Santander on the Albareda quay, facing the bay. The site’s location places its visitors within a 10-minute walk from the central train station, two major parking structures and the municipal park. As the building seeks to connect and enhance the city’s public spaces, the project proposes to partly bury the adjacent road, thereby giving continuity to the public space by means of the Pereda Gardens.
The project is comprised of a two-story art gallery, roughly 2,500 square meters in area, a multifunctional space seating 300, an educational space and an exterior public square which are distributed in two volumes. Piano has designed a circulation spine that joins both elevated volumes and then stretches over the level of the garden all the way to the shoreline, ending in a pier over the sea. An open-air amphitheater flanks one of the volumes, on whose facade a mobile projection screen will be installed.
The elevated buildings do not interrupt people’s path toward the water, and also brings a sense of lightness to the building as it hovers above grade. The masses are rounded at the corners which provides the illusion of a continuous wrapper from the underbelly to the roof, and allows light to be better diffused beneath the structures. Drawing inspiration from natural textures, the skin of the building is conceived as an oorganic envelope formed by ceramic pieces similar to cellular growth.
The Botín Centre will be the world’s greatest center for creative training through art and will support the creative talent of the youth of Cantabria. ”This emphasis on education is the backbone of the Botín Centre and it will be integrated into the Foundation’s other departments,” explained Botín.
The building is slated to be open in Santander in the summer of 2014. We will keep you updated on the progress of the project and news of its ground breaking ceremony June 19.