THE CITY OF ENVIRONMENT by Adhoc MSL + bestBefore + Modostudio + Barbarela Studio

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The city council of Santomera, located in the south-east of Spain, organized a competition among architects to design the City of Environment. The requisites of the program were to design a cultural space that included a museum, an educational centre as well as recreational zones. With that project, the Santomera city council was to revive the area after being abandoned by the mining industry. The architects winning the competition are a mix of international and local teams, including Adhoc MSL, Bestbefore, Barbarela Studio and Modostudio. Their proposal was to focus the planned activities in three buildings. This way, they would leave empty spaces for creating recreational zones like green area, parks and pedestrian zones.

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The place to be changed by the specialists was a deteriorated area of former exploitation grounds of copper of 15 ha. It is situated 2 kilometers off the highway A7, very close to the city of Murcia, in the south-east of Spain. The place in which the construction is to take place was found in the difficult surface of glens and great unevenness. Therefore, the architects decided to concentrate the complex within only three buildings, in order to master the geographical difficulties mentioned above. This way, they were able to maintain intact its existing natural structure formed by the quarries implying a minimum impact.

The three buildings are located around four big existing craters, which have been filled with water to create artificial lakes. They will be connected by a net of pathways, which will provide access for both pedestrians and electric vehicles. Their boundaries will be complemented by specifically planted vegetation. These paths will be designed considering the quarry as an outdoor museum. In the recreational zones there are diverse appliances installed to represent the different types of sustainable energies: The sun, the wind and the water, and its respective technological possibilities of capitation. These appliances are also meant to have an educational motive.

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The first building will form the field of practices and rehearsals for the School of Prevention and Extinction of Forest Fires, suitably isolated and protected from the footpaths, but with a visual presence that the architects considered to be relevant. The second construction provides an outdoor classroom, a polyvalent infrastructure, which will be defined as the Regional School of Hunting and Fishing, designed for children that will allow them to complete the educational offer of the complex during spring and summer time. The third building will be designed to offer a Center of Education regarding the Environment and a Forest Museum in its interior.

Parting from the studies undertaken regarding the grounds’ morphology, the project proposes a theoretical model of landscape intervention allowing the rehabilitation of natural degraded spaces.

Client: City of Santomera
Phase: Competition - winning project
Area: 130 hectares
Construction budget: € 16.000.000,00
Design team: Adhocmsl, Modostudio, Best Before, Barbarela studio
Consultants: Forest engineering: Victor Manuel Castillo Sánchez; Biology: Maria Dolores Martínez-Mena García; Structural engineering: Julián Pérez Castillo; Landscape: Arch. Nathalie Gidrón


November 2007
Article published on A10 magazine #19 . Link here