AMP arquitectos won the National Competition for The seat of the Presidency of the Autonomous Government of the Canary Islands in 1996.
The winning proposal included a marco-masterplan that included the surrounding space and the building. This area, which is intrinsically linked to the founding of the city of Santa Cruz, capital of the island, includes the Chapel of St. Telmo, the San Carlos Barracks and a grove of magnificent Indian laurels which had to be included in the project and preserved. This public esplanade is covered with exceptional 16th century basalt cobblestones that give the impression of lava flowing from a central point to the shady areas of the trees. Equally exceptional are the old basaltic stone parapets.
Situated to the west of the Square is the building that will house all the rooms related to the Presidential activities. The building has been planned as a twinning of two large volumes of stone, situated around the courtyard of the former “Hamilton House”, one of the most emblematic buildings of old Santa Cruz. The courtyard which is now undergoing reconstruction since being dismantled in 1973, is one of the best examples of 18th century Canarian architecture in wood.
The volume and space of the building are directly defined by the supporting structure and distinguished by the use of different materials. The solid element is pierced by two axial hollows: a central crater, crossed by a horizontal passage. Both axes coincide in a perimeter that will witness the confluence of visitors, will add clarity, a connecting point for the different floors, and the entrance of natural light and ventilation in the restored patio. Apart from the spatial determinants of this central area, each floor has different distinguishing features. The basement will house the garage. The building is accessed through a spacious ground floor, free of all structural supports, which contains the library and the assembly-hall with seating for up to three hundred people. The entire first storey acts as a unified space, and the honey-combed concrete screens subdivide the offices in this area, with the large up-ended beams providing support for the lower and upper roofs. The upper floor is used for events of institutional nature, the Reception room extends into a tree-lined patio above the Assembly-hall, whilst the Presidency rooms glimpse the massif of Anaga. The landscaped roof contains the private rooms of the Presidency.
Stone is an important element in the finish of the building; while all the large volumes of the external surface are covered with scaled faces of 20 cm thick basaltic stone, the internal surfaces of the most emblematic parts of the building are covered with different coloured stones from the seven islands (Tindaya from Fuerteventura, in the Assembly-hall, redstone from La Gomera in the Reception room, etc....).
Parallel to the design process of this project has been the collaboration with several Canarian sculptors whose works are incorporated to the building itself.
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