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Rowing Centre by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia, Alange, Spain

Garcia’s rowing centre creates sinous encounters with its surrounding landscape

On the Alange Reservoir in south-west Spain, this new centre for rowing and canoeing provides facilities for elite training and competition, connecting with a nearby race area, pier and car park. The two-storey building explores the duality of lightness and mass, pavilion and cave. Partially embedded in the site, a massive concrete podium is capped by a lightweight glazed upper deck.This forms a platform and belvedere overlooking the water, shore and boats.

Framed by storey-high metal trusses that span 21m and create a column-free space at lower level, the glazed deck has a studied Miesian neutrality and abstraction. It’s the classic elemental pavilion in the landscape, addressing nature yet also barely intruding into it. The upper level will eventually be developed as a lounge, meeting and study areas with access to the viewing terrace.

Suspended from the trusses by tensile wires, a long ramp leads to the lower level. The ramp is contained in a crevasse-like slot in the deck, allowing light to penetrate to the subterranean floor below. With its irregular geometry dictated by the shape of the site, the cavernous lower level contains the more sportif parts of the programme. A central hall acts as a large classroom and workshop, with perimeter zones of offices, gym and boat storage. Entrances at each level separate the public from athletes and technicians.

The jury was impressed by the project’s evident formal and material refinement, as well as the way it subtly engages with the surrounding terrain.

Architect José María Sánchez García
Photographs Roland Halbe

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