The problems which arise from the need to encapsulate various cultural and tertiary uses, in a building with historical and heritage characteristics, defines the itinerary of this refurbishment project, which emphasises the treatment and renovation of the conditions of the public space.
The initial project strategy began with the consideration of three basic concepts regarding the process of architectural reflection: “urban situation”, “architectural nature of the building”, and, of course, “the Tabakalera project as a future cultural centre dedicated to the visual arts”.
The proposal begins with the creation of a ‘loggia’ in the northern sector of the building with the objective of defining a new urban plaza that is level with the basement, which, in a multi-functional fashion and with a partially covered approach, will resolve the entrances of the current basement and connect directly to the new escalators and with the ‘main street’ of the future International Centre of Contemporary Culture (CICC).
This newly-created urban-‘loggia’ space is a fundamental piece of this project, as it is a key element in the completion of the hypothetical diagonal line which will connect the town of Eguía and Cristina Enea Park with the Urumea river and the neighbouring suburban area. This diagonal itinerary, which takes place within the building, will be the element that finally connects its two main entrances: the current entrace, on Paseo del Duque de Mandas, and, across the ‘main street’ and the patio in the north-western quadrant (emptied down to basement level), the newly-created space which will act as an entrance to the aforementioned ‘loggia’.
Recognising the architectural value and the style of the building, which has a ceiling area of 37,500 m, the project aims to establish various strategies with the objective of preserving the original elements and highlighting the value of its most characteristic traits. The main idea is the creation of a large container, housing flexible spaces which, maintaining the functional topology of the old building, provide various functional organisation solutions within the framework of the Tabakalera cultural project.
A new glass volume, which contains public spaces as well as a restaurant with a terrace that looks out over Cristina Enea Park, juts out over the central volume of the building, reinforcing its symmetrical image as a counterpoint to its manifest horizontality while transforming it into a large “urban lighthouse” providing impressive views of the city. The backdrop of the sea is thus connected with the city’s main topological features (Igueldo, Urgull and Ulía), and with the suburban area, the Buen Pastor church, the river Urumea and, of course, the Kursaal Conference Centre as a backdrop.