Architecture for culture

Lugo. Spain.

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Edificio Vello Cárcere. Refurbishment of the old Lugo prison to establish a cultural centre.


Description Technical file

The intention of recovering Lugo’s old gaol for a civic space, in which the cells are transformed into spaces that transmit the citizens’ exterior time and events, governs the philosophy applied by the authors who have undertaken this project.

Lugo’s Old Judicial District Gaol is a beautiful building situated in close proximity to the city walls, designed by Nemesio Cobreros in 1878 according to the improvement criteria introduced in the early Modelo gaols. The prison was conceived for a community without a territory that barely perceived the passage of time but which was confined into small rooms since, as M. Foucault says in his book Discipline and Punish: “the space for discipline is ultimately always a cellular one”.

The project is based on the idea that the building had to be the protagonist and its interior space returned to the city as a street on which to walk and meet, talk and display issues that, exhibited while making the most of the already-built order, could become culture without a museum.

The intervention thus seeks to reveal what a space is on the basis of what it was, giving careful consideration to the many gazes that can be thrown and were thrown. This is why the still-closed new doors allow the spaces to be seen and crossed, connecting the levels with one another. And this is also why two new entrances are opened to the exterior courtyard, showing a renovated, arcaded enclosure that will be a new plaza. Each piece of iron, each piece of wood of the old gaol is also recovered and the roofs have been put back. There are elements as interesting as the beautiful Polonceau truss in the central space or a brick vault that appeared in the archaeology module. The access body, the most recent one to be transformed, was worked on to create a new building, separated from its walls, turning it into an auditorium and library and becoming a cafeteria in the roof space.

In essence, the great value of the void as a space for rest and memory is used both in the visual axes and in the routes that cross the building from the courtyards and around the perimeter enclosure, conceived in its entirety as an infrastructure built with the same texture that multiplies the possibilities of access, giving independence not only to each one of the buildings but also to the main collective-use spaces, all of them projected to the exterior and establishing links with the city.

Finally it was proposed to simultaneously develop this part of the city, giving priority to pedestrian zones by turning the lateral street into a boulevard, unifying the stone paving between the prison courtyards and the bus station and covering the plaza and the garden of the main façade with compacted earth in a quest for a painstaking clean-up action on the various elements, interpreting the historical image of the connecting space between the jail and the gate of the city walls and putting the trees back centre stage as the defining elements of the space.

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Localización Location: Lugo. Spain. Arquitectos Architects: CREUSeCARRASCO arquitectos. | Juan Creus - Covadonga Carrasco. Dirección de obra Site management: CREUSeCARRASCO arquitectos. Colaboradores Collaborators: Belén Salgado, Bárbara Mesquita, Laura Coladas, Nuria Casais, Cristina Canto, Elisa Moreira, Manuel Burraco, Celsa Pesqueira, Sara Escudero, Alicia Balbás, Elena Junquera, Félix Suárez (estructura / dirección de ejecución), Isabel Francos (ingeniera), José Luís García (medición), Francisco Hervés (arqueología). Promotor Developer: Concello de Lugo, Deputación de Lugo, Unión Europea – Plan URBAN Constructora General Contractor: San José. Jefe de obra Site manager: Beatriz Rey, Jesús Longarela, Ana Alvela. Superficies construidas Built areas: 2.725,85m² (superficie útil), 1.060,15m² (superficie exterior), 3.766,11m² (superficie construida). Fecha de finalización de la obra Completion date of the works: marzo 2017. Fotografía Photography: Luis Díaz Díaz.
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Aplacado mármol Macael: Marmolería Jose Rey info@

Estructura metálica y barandilla de acero inoxidable: fundinoxcorten@
Covadonga Carrasco
A Coruña
Juan Creus
A Coruña
CREUSeCARRASCO arquitectos

Luís Díaz Diaz