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Ferreries Cultural Centre by Arquitecturia, Tortosa, Spain

Emerging Architecture Awards 2010: Runner-Up

This project in Tortosa, a small town in southern Catalonia, reinvigorates a former market building and square to create a new cultural centre for the Ferreries neighbourhood. Its architects are the young Girona based partnership of Arquitecturia, founded by Olga Felip and Josep Camps, who both studied architecture in Barcelona. Like much notable recent Spanish work, it displays an intelligent and unsentimental approach to the handling of old buildings.

Here, the long double height nave of the existing market is paired with a larger new building to form a hybrid structure that powerfully defines and anchors the edge of a small urban square. An exquisite tension is orchestrated between old and new, in the juxtaposition of the creamy stone and regular geometry of the market and the more abstract and irregular form of the new building, which is clad in a dark ribbed skin. The two physically conjoin at first floor level.

The ribbed carapace of the new part is reprised inside the market hall, which is lined with thin vertical slats of white painted timber, so the effect is rather like being inside an Op Art painting. This crispness underscores a rigorously executed project that addresses different architectural eras, while adding to the town’s cultural and urban life.

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