Architect: QVE Arquitectos
Location: Vitoria, Spain
Architects in charge: José María García del Monte, Ana María Montiel Jiménez & Fernando García Colorado
Cost consultant: Rafael Valín Alcocer / Project Phase
Structure Consultant: José Luis Fernández Cabo
Cost consultant: José Luis Montoya & Luis Alberto Martinez de Sarriá / Construction Phase
Services Consultant: GEA S.L.
Project year: 2002-2003
Construction year: 2006-2008
Project Area: 2,000 sqm
Photographs: Eduardo Moratinos
We had four starting points:
- An astonishing place: a natural wetlands area close to city, formerly drained to transform them into a farmland, which were returned to their original condition during the last years
- A suggestive program: a center for visitors, a place to make contact with the wetlands you will visit later on; the front door to the park, a threshold between two worlds, urban and natural
- An intense “wood-smell”: as element of mediation with nature and the perfect material to take advantage of time (“the older the better”), wood arose from the very first moment as a desire
- The opportunity to risk and try to arrive where you had never been: the joy of playing with gravity
The aims are:
- The will to project the building beyond its limits, flying over the water, to put the visitors in a privileged place: just inside the park, once forgotten the city at their backs, over the water, in a point at which you could not arrive otherwise: a twenty one meters span cantilever made of wood and steel
- The will of not masking the structure during the constructive process: we did not want to make a “wood-looking-building” but a real wood-building. From structure to finished building, hardly any new layers have appeared and at no time do they hide the wood.
- Sustainability must born in mind right from the very spatial conception of the building: we have created shade and cross-ventilation, we made unnecessary to install air-conditioning, so we will only consume what is strictly necessary and, we’ll save a lot of money and energy on gadgets. Sustainability refers also to not to use asphalt or plastic products, to let the water run free (not draining it, we are on wetlands), to use Nordic wood as main material for the whole building, to use autocompactable concrete, which avoids noise pollution, an important issue in such a biodiversity site…
The difficulty of the project was to find the laws which were coherent with a risky construction scheme. We checked the scheme to estimate its dimensional limits, study knots, analyze how to reach enough rigidity, how to manage to reach the necessary fire resistance and how to protect the most delicate points from rain, without “sacrifice skins” that would transform the image of the building.
In a few words, we needed to find an order which would avoid conflicts and which would allow the building to “grow by himself”.
So, we designed six frames for six section schemes, according to the desired geometry; used concrete walls and steel knots to solve the contact between two worlds (wood and ground) and decided a severe rhythm for the whole building; each part is built up by repetition, so we could make it grow or contract by adding or clearing a number of frames.
Now the building is just finished, the area must reborn and the wood must age… years will improve it.