Arquitectura Viva
Thursday, August 06, 2020

Jiménez Torrecillas arquitectos, Alcázar Genil Station in Granada

The Granada Metro construction works, which began in 2007, involved building a single rail line crossing the city, connecting it with several towns in the metropolitan area and linking many of its key activity hubs and sites. This infrastructure covers approximately 16 kilometers, of which 2,750 meters are buried, so three underground stations were needed. The remains of the Albercón were found during the construction of the station of Alcázar Genil, a fortress located next to the 13th-century Muslim palace. According to some historic sources, this element was 124 meters long and served as a stage for naumachiae, but its main role was to control the irrigation of the fields. Unlike the fortress, which was better preserved, the reservoir was destroyed in 1977 by two residential developments, and only the stretch below the Camino de Ronda is preserved.

The station was initially designed as an elongated double-height space with an intermediate lobby level. However, with the emergence of archaeological remains, situated between the lobby and the street, the project was redefined to let the metro pass below and make the discovery accessible to visitors. Another condition was also added: the side walls of the reservoir, tucked in between the longitudinal palisades of pilotis, should not be taken apart, but rather maintained at their original height, so it was necessary to brace them below the base. To this end, segmental arches were executed, pouring concrete on the same earth used for the foundation, and that transmit loads from the Albercón to the sides and at the same time shore the excavation. In this way it is possible to avoid having to move and rebuild the deposit, which preserves its character as archaeological site but is integrated at the same time in the urban context. In this sense, the intervention proposes a critical reading of the architectural heritage and of the city, conceived as a simultaneous accumulation of material strata and deposited times.

The sides of the station, which in the original proposal were cladded to conceal the retaining pilotis, are exposed to emphasize the underground character of this place and reflect the challenge involved in its completion. Furthermore, the toplight coming in through the skylights, placed along the longitudinal axis, and from the glass boxes of the staircases, underlines the rough texture of the concrete, which gives the interior space a material quality.
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