Castilla-La Mancha Nature Center Ars Natura

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De Lapuerta + Asensio Arquitectos


Location: Cuenca
Date: 2010

Format    Pdf
Pages 18
Language Spanish

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The building location has a special value based on the relationship between the built-up area of the city and the urban banks of the Ebro river, recuperated for the 2008 Expo, forming a linear park that accompanies the river on its way through Zaragoza. Situated in the centre of the city, next to the Almozara bridge, the site has considerable differences in level; about five metres between the avenue and the square at the upper level and the Ebro riverbank park. The project is based on two fundamental ideas. The first idea is in response to the special urban and landscape importance of the location, via a formal definition and configuration of the building that suggests an intense relationship with the landscape; the second aims to express the intrinsic relationship between the environmental commitment of the project and its materiality and the building programme, which houses the Ebro Environmental Center of the Environment Department of Zaragoza City Council.

The relationship with the adjacent urban spaces and the topographic features of the site become active conditions for the implementation of the building, making the levels of the different floors and entrances coincide with the already existing ones. These relationships can clearly be seen in the project section that also expresses the extension of the public space of the entrance, via the roof and the configuration of the building as a platform-viewpoint onto the Ebro river. The contrast between the solid podium of the platform, a continuation of the walls of the pre-existing electrical substation, and the lightness of the glass and wood pavilion that rests on this level, is one of the formal characteristics of the project, which also responds to the functional organisation of the different uses.

Given the differences in level of the site, the main entrance to the building is on the upper floor, defined by the avenue and square on the electrical substation. This floor, which is for public use, houses the administrative spaces and the environmental classroom.

The main hall joins and separates both spaces, enabling them to be used independently. The classroom is configured as a projection, both at floor and roof level, providing this space with 180º continuous panoramic vision, giving the impression that it is floating over the park.

The mezzanine situated over the hall houses offices that act as a backup for the classroom, which can be used for meetings and conferences. The restricted access offices of the Forestry and Natural Areas departments are located below the entrance level, in the basement: car park, changing rooms, guardrooms, warehouses and installations.

This lower floor has pedestrian and vehicle access from the Riverbank Park.
The roof is an essential element within the landscape design of the building as well as the main image that the residential buildings, which look out onto the park from the town side, have of the building. As an extension of the outer public space and accessed from the hall, the roof is configured as a viewpoint at different levels, which are joined together by gentle ramps and a terraced grandstand, designed as an outdoor amphitheatre for possible recreational uses. On the other hand, the programmatic demand for a certain pedagogical character in the environmental

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