Arquitectura Viva
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Francisco Mangado, Asturias Museum of Fine Arts in Oviedo

Winner in the competition held in 2007, the proposal takes the overall evaluation of the urban fabric as point of departure, including the two historical buildings that harbored the museum up to now – Velarde Palace and Casa Oviedo-Portal –, and proposes building a new volume inside them. The project accepts the sequence of facades as a contextual condition, and these become an urban ‘backdrop,’ within which the new building goes up, one whose own facade can be seen through the bare frameless openings, which constitute the civic tribute. From outside it is possible to complete a large luminous structure, glazed and full of reflections, that is projected to the exterior superposed to the urban history, creating in this way a strong but complex image for the Museum of Fine Arts.

The other essential element to explain the relationship with context is the courtyard, which becomes a place of encounter, merging the different buildings that make up the whole compound. The new layout hints at the importance of the courtyards, of the voids, of the project’s configuration. As much the urban block, revalued and added to the overall structure, as the covered courtyard of the new main construction – a large skylight that articulates and structures the accesses and communication elements, becoming a reference space –, shape a proposal that extends the existing compound, both conceptually and physically.

Two unique elements appear in the new construction. On the one hand, the new facade behind the historical one that is preserved onto Rúa Street and the corner of Rúa with Alfonso II square, an element with a great formal, visual and functional intensity that will become the new image of the museum, and that defines the public stairway that gives access to the different museum levels and the double and triple height spaces of the entrance, in dialogue with the historical facades as they approach or move away from them in the interior. This thick facade concentrates the two periods and permits an oblique view of the city. The carved finish of the glass on the new facade produces, in contact with the existing front, an interplay of reflections, an interaction between the two facades that creates an intense and rich space. The other unique element, from the formal point of view, are the roof skylights. Recessed from the facade, their visual impact from the exterior is reduced, but they give the interiors a rich spatial quality.
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