Museums and exhibition spaces


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Archaeological Museum

Francisco José Mangado Beloqui, arquitecto

FAD Awards finalist 2010  Architecture
Description Technical file

A beautiful jewel case darkened with slotted grooves formed from bronze pieces and perforated by oblique glass prisms that penetrate it to different depths, it becomes a museum space at the service of archaeology in a complicated and fragile framework of urban relationships in the very heart of old Vitoria, sharing the space and neighbourhood with the Palacio Bendaña, which houses the Fournier Playing Cards Museum.

In the permanent exhibition halls, the horizontal planes are very dark. The rosewood floor is nearly black and the continuous ceiling is black, completing the reference to time in the form of geological strata which compress history between their layers. These spaces are crossed by prisms of white glass around which the pieces of the exhibition are arranged, illuminated by the roof lights. These glass elements contain information inside their folds which explains the showcased objects.

With context firmly in mind, the building attempts to preserve continuity with its annex, the Palacio de Bendaña, currently the Fournier Playing Cards Museum. The main entrance is reachable through the same courtyard which the Palacio de Bendaña uses as its entrance, forming a sense of totality between the two. The project does not occupy the entirety of the surface available to it, instead choosing maximise the courtyard's surface to create a more dignified entry to the building. Only a narrow stretch is used as a perpendicular appendix to the main building, which provides a more tasteful façade than the current party wall as well as an area for support uses. Given that the area is uneven, the courtyard is accessed across a bridge overlooking a garden designed to allow light into the lower floors of the building.

Functionally, the building is organised so that the work areas such as the library and workshops are located at the lowest level which gives out onto the street, with a separate entrance for employees. The floor which is accessible to the public from the common courtyard contains the assembly room and temporary exhibitions. All the remaining higher floors are home to the permanent exhibitions. The second and third floors are organised chronologically, with some references to the main archaeological sites of Álava and focusing in particular on the Roman city of Iruña-Veleia and one of its landmarks on the Astorga-Burdeos road, the Lady of Iruña. The top floor is an example of the author's intention to create a timeless fusion between architecture and archaeology. In contrast, the windows of each floor create a living portrait of the area's daily life, with views of the street as well as the cathedral of Santa María on the hilltop. The route ends in the courtyard where the visual effects created by folded sheets of cast bronze have an even greater impact than before. The main staircase which joins each floor is part of the façade of the building, visible from the courtyard.

The enclosing walls have several layers. The façade which gives directly on to the access courtyard is a trellis of cast bronze pieces, a material which has clear ties to archaeology. The middle section is a wall made of two layers of screen printed glass between which the staircase resides, allowing visitors to contemplate the courtyard as they ascend. The side which faces the lower street is tighter, consisting of a more opaque layer of cast bronze, with openings where necessary, and an interior layer made up of a wall containing space for installations and exhibitions. In this way the interior spaces are freed, crossed only by the translucent glass prisms.

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Situación: Vitoria. Autor: Francisco José Mangado Beloqui, arquitecto. Dirección de obra: Francisco José Mangado Beloqui, arquitecto. Colaboradores: José Mª Gastaldo, Richard Král’ovič, Eduardo Pérez de Arenaza. Ingeniería estructura: NB 35 SL (Jesús Jiménez Cañas / Alberto López) Ingenieros. Ingeniería instalaciones: Iturralde y Sagüés ingenieros / César Martín Gómez. Ingeniería acústica: Higini Arau. Estudi Acustic. Iluminación: ALS Lighting. arquitectos consultores de iluminación (Antón Amann). Laura Montoya López de Heredia, arquitecta técnica. Constructora: UTE Arqueología (Dragados, Lagunketa). Promotor: Diputación Foral de Álava. Fotografía: Rolanda Halbe y Pedro Pegenaute.
Francisco José Mangado Beloquí
Pamplona, Navarra
Roland Halbe
Stuttgart, Alemania
Pedro Pegenaute