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Biodiversity Centre by Thomas Garcia Piriz, Loja, Southern Spain

Piriz commands Spanish soils with an irregular, dramatic insertion-seaming the landscape via an intrepid geometry

This biodiversity centre is on the outskirts of Loja in southern Spain, in terrain dominated by agricultural development. Intended to conserve and disseminate environmentally responsible land use, with an emphasis on biodiversity, the project colonises farmland next to an irrigation ditch and an ancient tree.

Running an education programme for farmers, school students and land inspectors, the biodiversity centre is actively involved in the cultivation of theoretical knowledge and practical techniques. The main office area contains a zone for the treatment of seeds characteristic of the region. The building aims to minimise its presence in the landscape by hunkering down and partially embedding itself in the site. Its tapering plan partly encloses the former patio of a ruined house, cupping the ancient tree in a gentle embrace.

Despite its bucolic setting, the building makes no concessions to rural vernacular. With its angular, folded roof and twisting, pincer-like plan, it resembles a delicate piece of origami placed on the rural site like an exotic ornament. Large slots of full-height glazing offer glimpses of its inner workings. Consciously or not, the clinical interior gives a sense of serious scientific endeavours. Yet the white walls also allude to the sobriety and plainness of traditional Iberian architecture, abstracted for the modern age.

The jury concluded this was a compelling and sophisticated piece of work, making resonant links with site and programme.

Architect Thomás García Píriz
Photographs Javier Callejas Sevilla

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