Arquitectura Viva
Thursday, August 13, 2020

La Luz Castle by Nieto & Sobejano in Las Palmas (Spain)

A decade after the start of reconstruction work at the Castle of La Luz in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Fuensanta Nieto & Enrique Sobejano complete phase two of their architectural intervention there. The first governor of the Canary Islands ordered the construction of a tower at the end of the 15th century, and when it was extended a few years later, the space located between the tower and the new perimeter walls was filled with earth to increase the building’s strength and resistance. That purely defensive need would become the structuring argument of our architectural proposal for the Castillo de La Luz (La Luz Castle). Located in La Isleta, the isthmus to which the Castilian ships that protected the city arrived, it concealed those primitive walls originally beat by the sea. The passage of time not only affected its initial use and preservation, but also the conditions of its closest environment: the old coastal fortress that was wrapped by the water during high tide became gradually surrounded by the structures of the Puerto de La Luz (Port of Las Palmas) and the growing city of Las Palmas. After being involved in battles at the end of the 16th century – in which the city was plundered, burnt and rebuilt –, the fortress kept its military role in gradual decline, reaching the 20th century in a state of ruin. In the 1960s however it was partially reconstructed to become an exhibitions gallery. 

When undertaking the project to build in the historic castle that was to be transformed into a new exhibition space equipped with the installations appropriate to a contemporary museum, we decided to begin with a close reading of the circumstances of its own past: if during five centuries the space between the outer walls and the original tower had remained hidden, filled with earth, our task essentially consisted in emptying it, recovering the view of the primitive fortress, transformed now into the protagonist of the new museum. A void emerged there where there only used to be hardpan, a space up to now concealed to the view, covered with a white concrete slab that is separated from the stone walls of the old tower to let natural light pass through narrow cracks. Towards the exterior a recently built fake perimetral pit is taken apart to free up a vast surface of the terrain at the original level of the fortress, which allows perceiving its full dimension. A new partially buried pavilion makes the most of the unevenness that the growth of the city has produced throughout time, and adds complementary spaces for the museum: access, shop, restrooms, storage and multipurpose hall. A thin horizontal platform that barely emerges from the terrain will be the only visible trace of an intervention that tries to go unnoticed next to the building it serves and complements. 

Any contemporary intervention on the historical heritage generates a difficult relationship, and on some occasions like this one it becomes the expression of a direct and clear answer to the apparently insignificant circumstances that only demanded a basic action: rather than rebuilding or refurbishing the La Luz Castle, we have simply emptied it, revealing its concealed past, now transformed into a space filled with light – as if it were paying tribute to its name – by means of an architecture that displays itself and its own history.
AV Monografías 226 - SOU FUJIMOTO AV Monographs
analyzes in each issue a theme related to a city, a country, a tendency or an architect, with articles by leading specialists complemented by commentary on works and projects illustrated in detail. Published bilingually, with Spanish and English texts placed side by side.
Arquitectura Viva 226 - ROLDÁN+BERENGUÉ Arquitectura Viva
covers current topics, taking stock of recent trends in set sections: cover story, works and projects, art and culture, books, technique and innovation. From 2013 on, monthly and bilingual, with Spanish and English texts printed side by side.
AV Proyectos 99 - FOSTER+PARTNERS AV Proyectos
is the third member of the AV family: a bilingual publication essentially focussed on design projects (with special attention on competitions and construction details), heretofore only laterally dealt with in the other two magazines.
Arquitectura Viva SL - Calle de Aniceto Marinas, 32 - E-28008 Madrid, España - Ph: (+34) 915 487 317 - Fax: (+34) 915 488 191 -
Política de cookies - Aviso Legal - Condiciones de contratación - RSS