La Galeria_MUCC Cultural Center, Murcia, Spain, 2017
Nicola Di Maso @ Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura y Edificacion de Cartagena
In a society governed by mobile phones and computers, the social and cultural values present in the past have been lost. People don’t talk anymore. Art and culture are within reach of telephone and accessible with a clik. We lost the taste of going to an exhibition or actively participating in training activities. From this assumption comes the need to create a new idea of culture: “la Galerìa”. “La Galerìa” is more than a building. It represents an idea of culture accessible to the city all hours of the day and completely usable. Culture that stimulates social relationships through the actions of walking, observing and participation.
“La Galerìa” borns in Murcia, city of studies, in the Carmen district, in a place currently occupied by the sports center of the Services and Maintenance Unit of the University of Murcia, an unused building. The current area isn’t accessible and part of it’s reserved for residential use. It turns out to be limited from areas of urban green, however, without connections. The project involves the demolition of the unused structure and the creation of a new public space for the city that favors social relations, through casual meetings or due to the simple crossing of this space. It consists of a sequence of squares arranged on several levels. The central one and also the largest one is covered by the large reinforced concrete roof and bordered laterally by two massive walls (the largest of which houses archives, temporary accommodation for staff, services and offices) that actually generate the Gallery , ” connector element of the project “. This structure rises up to 13 meters in height and imposes itself in the urban context with power and authority. The exposed concrete makes the structure elegant but severe at the same time. The Gallery flanks to the north, a road whose small size gives it further grandeur and almost a sense of “oppressiveness”. Opposition that favors, however, its crossing. The gallery connects one side to the other of the block and thus becomes the connector element of the project. Inside it people can meet themselves to spend time in company or simply walk to reach the nearest park. In the gallery, therefore, the first founding action of the project takes place, that of walking or crossing.
La Galerìa houses inside the cardinal building of the project: a cultural training center where you can carry out various training activities, enjoy temporary exhibitions and immerse yourself completely in culture and art. It represents “the heart of the Gallery” and as such it clings to the Gallery not only metaphorically but also constructively through the transverse beams that penetrate the side curtain walls. The central structure is therefore a modular structure in exposed concrete, organized on four levels and closed on four sides by a curtain wall that not only represents a sense of protection and gives it preciousness, but also increases climatic and safety functions, regulating the access during the hours of the day. At level 0 there are spaces used for security, secretariat, and information spaces, bars and a play area for the little ones. Level 1 is used for talleres. Training and work rooms and laboratories. On the upper level there are the training rooms, a library with a small attached archive and a conference / auditorium. The fourth and last level is a completely free space used for temporary exhibitions and organized cultural events. The structure of the cultural center is designed to maintain the idea of traveling and crossing the Gallery. However, the action of walking is not only solicited, but also and above all that of observing. The structure of each space, in fact, follows a precise logic: the wall infillings are parallel to the external masonry walls, while the windows are oriented in the same direction. The fryer therefore not only walks, but can also observe what happens within the individual spaces and feel an integral part of this new cultural world while not actively participating in it. Even here there is no lack of spaces, now illuminated places now in the shade, that they become the theater of new dialogues and new social relations.
If the Gallery is therefore the connector of the project, the cultural center inside it constitutes “the attractor element”, as it represents in fact a new and important center of the city of Murcia, giving the opportunity to the many students and ordinary citizens of enjoy a new public space donated to the city and that embodies the ideal of an open, perceptible, visible and enveloping culture, just like the complex reinforced concrete structure of which it is built. “La Galerìa” is not just a building. It is an ideal, a new approach to culture and social relations that borns in Murcia, but which is destined to spread throughout the world.
The structure of the building is based on a 5×5 meter module and is entirely in reinforced concrete. It consists of pillars and beams that follow two hierarchies: the beams that penetrate the massive side walls are higher than the longitudinal ones. The girder of the large roof of the Galeria, however, consists of beams of 1 meter in height, designed to cover large lights. The central building is closed on all four sides by a curtain wall. It regulates access and air conditioning. The floor is made leaving the visible ribs, sometimes semi-covered by a metal false ceiling. The structure is shown for what it is, naked, severe, enveloping.
Who influences you graphically?
It wasn’t a single artist or a single work of art that inspired me. I have always been fascinated by the old municipal papers that often appeared with a yellowish paper with a black stroke or drawn in pen. I think we always look for modernity but in this case I wanted to re-emerge the beauty of antiquity and technical drawing by hand. The search for this aesthetic taste has been combined with the modularity of the project. Hence the choice, in fact, to use yellow graph paper. The grid gives charm and rigor to the design of a modular project.
What is your take on colour- what is the effect and purpose of the colour blu?
In a drawing or any other representation, color, in my opinion, plays an important role. The choice of color can influence the way in which one perceives the design and the clarity of it. It is important to use different and contrasting colors to highlight something within the project. In my case I decided to use the blue pen color. As mentioned a little while ago, in fact, the graphics that inspired me is that of the old municipal papers and sheets of millimeter paper on which it was drawn in pen. The choice of blue, combined with the parallel diagonal lines gives the design that vintage effect of the old municipal cards drawn in pen, giving a refined touch. In all my drawings, you can also see the contrast between blue and yellow, two colors that in my opinion perfectly match. It ranges from the lighter yellow of the sheet, to the golden yellow and its nuances for the representation of functional axonometry, where I wanted to highlight the individual environments.
Contrarily to your statement it seems that there has been an increment in the popularity of the consumption of culture which has lead to the proliferation of new museums and new museum extensions, what is your response to this?
This also depends on the increase in technology, able to spread the culture as quickly as possible. I have already mentioned, in fact, that nowadays culture is just a click away. I am therefore aware of the growth of some museums and the birth of new ones. The goal is to involve as many people as possible in the world of culture and art. In my opinion, however, the emergence of new “cultural containers” does not always correspond to an increase in people’s interest. People are more attracted to going to a museum when admission is free or there are discounts. My goal is therefore to increase people’s interest in culture and training activities. As? Bringing it to contact as much as possible with themselves. When you cross a road to go from one area to another in a city and that road shows interesting places, people are more likely to stop, observe, participate. Like in a shopping street or a street of Christmas markets. With “la Galleria” I wanted to do this: bring young people, children and adults in close contact with culture without having to book a ticket with a phone or a computer. It is a space open to all whose profits can be obtained from donations or tickets bought directly on the spot.
What defined the use of the title ‘Gallery’? how does this relate to the objective of the project?
starting from the last answer it is evident, therefore, the reason why he used this name. “La Galeria” is a gallery, a public space given to the city, a new road to cross. This road preserves within it the places of interest, the places of culture and activities that are in close contact with the people passing by. The Gallery is born as a simple space for crossing, but becomes, thanks to its internal structure, a space of attraction and a new centrality within the city of Murcia.
How has the act of walking and crossing defined the architecture and programmatic distribution of the project?
The act of walking and crossing the gallery space meant that even the central structure used for cultural activities maintained the idea of permeability and crossing. The modularity of the project has facilitated this intent. The module of 5 x 5 defined by the inter-axis of the pillars, generates spaces now of light now of shadow, completely free through which people can walk and meet the places of cultural activities, thought out, then as independent places. Space is fluid. The decision to leave the exposed beams and to accentuate the materiality of the cement derives from the fact that I wanted to make this space, an urban space in all respects, a space “close to the road and to the city”.
What were your biggest concerns, what did you want to frame through the perspective views?
First of all I wanted them to exalt the materiality of the project. The structure shows itself as it is, brutal, powerful, yet elegant at the same time. I wanted to make this aspect of architecture poetic, where even a building apparently naked can arouse fascination towards the observer or user. The beams that connect the heart of the tunnel with the lateral wall are an example. They constitute the formalism necessary to make the project poetic. They are not just a structural but metaphorical function. And this is what I wanted to describe in the first perspective: the beams represent the link between the urban and rigid reality represented by the reinforced concrete wall and the light and imaginative world of ideas represented by the curtain wall that surrounds the central structure. Secondly, the perspectives show the activities that can be carried out inside the gallery and how people can participate in it. From a graphic point of view, finally, the choice to make the images with shades of blue and patterns that recall the grid of graph paper, was used to give a graphic unity to all my drawings.