Salburúa Nature Interpretation Centre / QVE Arquitectos


Architect: QVE Arquitectos
Location: Vitoria,
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

qve_ataria_03_photo qve_ataria_06_photo qve_ataria_07_photo qve_ataria_11_photo


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 “-smell”: as element of mediation with nature and the perfect material to take advantage of time (“the older the better”), 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
site plan
site plan


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…
west elevation + sections
west elevation + sections


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.

Cite: "Salburúa Nature Interpretation Centre / QVE Arquitectos" 29 Jul 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • kell

    What a wealth of information – thanks to all involved!
    Quite alot of things I like about this, in particular:
    The fact that the architects/engineers have taken a traditionally steel based approach to this cantilever and then stripped out as much of the steel as possible and replaced it with timber. IMHO the way forward.
    The fact that aging has been taken into account – so many architects want their pristine photo ops on Day 1 (so it can look like the Rhino image) and neglect how it’s going to look 3 years time.
    good work.

  • ofv

    Complètement inutile

  • Mookie Wilson

    Beautifully detailed and built, but I can’t help asking the question: Why? Seriously, this is a pretty extravagant structure that serves basically as a small viewing platform at the very tip. The rest is pretty inert. Does this really accomplish anything more than two benches and a pier could not?

    • warbs

      Completely agree, Wilson.
      Sustainability – which is paid lip service in the text, patting themselves on the back for not having air-conditioning – should begin with that very question.
      Beautifully built though…

    • kell

      of course there is that…

    • jr

      ask the same question to the most of the calatrava’s or zaha’s or gehry’s projects for example..WHY?

  • public eye

    I don’t know. I don’t like this building or design. It seems that the architect just wanted to build a ridiculously long cantilever so that people hopefully will talk about it.

  • StructureHub Blog

    Well done. The building is light-filled and warm, softly-hued and crisply executed in wood.

  • sylc

    What a well executed piece of architecture!
    Both the construction and drawing set are well done.
    What kine of nordic wood is it?
    I wish the concrete pedestal at Grid Line 26 is wood also.

  • myself ;)

    In the photos is not well shown, but the cantilever is over water, so this is the reason of it: the promoter wanted a viewing platform built as a tower, but it would be inadeaquated for the place; so, the project takes another direction and the viewing point grows from the building itself as its prolongation.

    The wood is laminated fir and, in the cantilever, microlaminated fir, called “kerto”.

  • helen

    i dotn think the view is worth it..

    • casio

      nice.. but kinda useless?
      a wide deck with benches next to the lake will do the trick.

      agree with Helen.

      i will 100% love the structure if it was built over grand canyon/ niagara falls etc..

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  • up_today_arch

    What a nice cantilever… many thanks for executive drawings…

  • vlad

    so where’s the other half of it ??

  • billu pukhare

    ya, this structure mhanje kharach dokyala taap..samajle ka angrejo?