CONCEPT: EMERGING FROM THE LAND
● A chunk of virgin land is cut out and raised, turning into a green roof. The vegetation we have “stolen” from the ground we will restore above. Seen from the sky, the building disappears.
● The raising of the land forms walls that support the roof and create the shape of the building. They are walls that have been made up from the local earth itself mixed with cement and gravel, giving it an earthy colour, thanks to the natural pigments. As if the ground itself had emerged from the earth to form the walls and create a habitable space. The interior flooring too is resolved as a simple, economical continuous surface, with gravels and pigments that recall the original land.
● It is made up of two juxtaposed volumes that “slide” against one another, the main one for the multi-purpose hall, which has room for 345 people seated with good visibility, or can be transformed into an unobstructed space. In parallel with this a second, smaller, volume serves
as the axis of communication and contains various services.
● The main hall has a large opening behind the stage that frames, like a diorama, the beautiful wooded countryside of the banks of the Ridaura river. There are curtains to darken the room when needed.
● A project conceived exclusively for this location with the landscape and substance of the site as inspiration.
This is a multi-purpose facility in Santa Cristina d’Aro, Girona, in the district of Baix Empordà. Santa Cristina d’Aro is situated close to the coast, in the upper reach of the Vall d’Aro, and the river Ridaura flows through it close to the town centre.
The municipality is growing as a result of the large amount of tourist activity during the summer months, which means that it already possesses considerable leisure and cultural facilities.
Nonetheless, the facilities in Santa Cristina were very basic and quite a few years old, as well as being at some distance from the town centre. So much so that the concerts of the Santa Cristina International Chamber Music Festival took place in the parish church.
It therefore became essential to build a new facility that could accommodate the rich cultural and leisure life of the town in a venue that would meet the requisite standards of quality, with sufficient
capacity, and equipped with the latest technology, making it possible to programme both professional performances and local gatherings.
The Espai Ridaura therefore provides a multipurpose space with room for 345 seated spectators (1,286 standing), suited to the fundamental functions of a small auditorium—stage performances, dances, small trade fairs, lectures, small conferences, etc. A system of fold-away seating enables the level central space to be cleared, making it possible even for vehicles to enter.
SITE AND LOCATION
The facility is located in a new and growing residential area on the southern outskirts of the town, between this and the Ridaura valley, and near the future new Town Hall, very close to the town centre.
The building stands on a triangular site of about 5,600 square metres, classed as being for public facilities. It occupies part of the site, while the remainder is left free and planted with trees as an area for waiting or strolling, so that the flows of people entering or leaving can be handled without difficulty.
The site also enough surface parking nearby to cope with the demand when there are performances.
During the design process, close attention was paid to the integration of the building into the landscape. The building is set against the backdrop of the leafy woodland that lines the banks of the Ridaura torrent, with the mountainside in the distance.
The building is almost entirely on a single level, occupying a land area of 986 square metres and with a total built area of 1,215 square metres. It consists of two well-defined volumes oriented on a northsouth axis, “sliding” against one another. The larger volume contains the entrance, the vestibule, the multipurpose hall, the projection and lighting control rooms, reception, ticket office and a small bar, while the other contains toilets, installations, a small music school and stores.
The main hall is a level space, unobstructed, with a free height of about 6 metres. It is equipped with retractile tiers of seating with a capacity of 202 spectators, the remainder being accommodated on movable chairs. The stage consists of dismountable modules. This configuration is intended to give maximum flexibility to the use of the space, allowing many different arrangements of audience and performance, ranging from the most conventional theatre or concert, to dances, trade fairs, fashion shows, performance art, exhibitions, etc. At the rear of the stage is a large glass window to allow the landscape, the great mass of green that lines the Ridaura river, to “enter” the building to bring character to the space, bringing it closer to nature, as well as affording natural light. To darken the stage when the type of event so requires, a system of curtains creates a “black box”. The rear part of the stage has been sufficiently dimensioned to allow various alternative ways of assembling the stage as well as providing storage space for items that are not being used for the current event. This space has a direct connection with the exterior, allowing the entry of vehicles for loading and unloading. A small dressing room with toilet and shower is also provided for stage
Special care has been taken to make the building accessible to everyone—children, the elderly, handicapped people… Hence, changes of level have been avoided and the toilets are equipped for disabled users.
MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT
Because this is a public facility, it represents the community. Both the facade and the outer skin have to reveal this function, differentiating it from the architecture of private housing, as well as that of industry and commerce. This requisite is combined with an economy of constructional resources and with particular attention to ecological construction, maintenance and durability.
The main entrance is sheltered by a large projecting canopy which emphasises the entrance and adds symbolic character to the building, creating a large covered area that is protected from the sun and the
The entire roof employs the environment-friendly “green roof” system, which as well as maintaining a rich and varied vegetation, provides excellent acoustic and thermal insulation for the interior, as well as requiring minimal maintenance. There are also thermal solar panels to generate hot water, and a low-consumption lighting system. Large skylights light the central passageway.
Both elements of the building employ a standardised system of prefabricated panels that are individualised by patches of earthy pigments in the same range of colours as those of the land on which the building stands, and which do not require subsequent maintenance.
Although the building is intended to be multifunctional, its use as an auditorium was regarded as primordial; for this reason excellent acoustic insulation has been provided. Furthermore, the materials used in the interior have been chosen to ensure the appropriate acoustic response with regard to reverberation time for music. In addition, all the necessary lighting, sound and stage equipment has been installed to meet the needs of the whole range of intended activities.
Above the stage area a gantry is provided for hanging lamps or scenery. This gantry can be reached from the rear of the stage area by way of a small side staircase, which also provides access to two large storage areas.