Fine Arts Museum of Asturias
ARCHITECT: FRANCISCO MANGADO – MANGADO Y ASOCIADOS
CLIENT: PRINCIPADO DE ASTURIAS
AWARDS WON: RIBA Award for International Excellence
The extension to the Fine Arts Museum of Asturias in Oviedo, is a skilful piece of architectural surgery that creates substantial galleries for contemporary art, carved out of the centre of an urban block adjacent to the Cathedral Square, whilst retaining the historic street elevation and thereby maintaining the original scale of the urban fabric.
Void and circulation mediate between the scale of the new galleries and the more diminutive scale of the original facades and at this point the architect introduces a dialogue between the art and the city around. Passers-by encounter, in place of a shop front, a view through the depth of galleries or upward glimpses to carefully positioned pieces of art. Likewise, visitors to the gallery are provided with glimpses of the city activity in juxtaposition to the art.
The project is characterised by qualities of natural light; from the captivating and enchanting ethereal shimmer of the façade of the contemporary insertion, glimpsed through and hovering above the retained facades, through the skilful manipulation of natural light in the galleries arranged around the central organising void, to the sculptural rooflights. The result is a series of spaces with an ambience that encourages the visitor to linger and enjoy the works on display - these are comfortable galleries to spend time in.
This abundance of natural light, including on occasion controlled direct sunlight, is possible as the new extension adds to a series of existing buildings that had, prior to the extension, housed the whole collection. These original buildings, also organised around light voids (originally courtyards), have little natural light and house the more light sensitive historic works.
Throughout the project scale is carefully handled; from the insertion of such substantial galleries whilst safeguarding and enhancing the urban grain, to the human scale of gallery circulation and the gallery spaces.
The construction project was extremely complex with significant excavations required deep into the rock below the city, to create collection stores and workshops and the site was landlocked and accessed only through narrow streets. The city has benefitted; the museum now has a presence on the main Cathedral Square and the strong collection of contemporary art now has a more appropriate setting in which to be displayed.
The client is extremely happy with what has been achieved on a difficult restricted site and it is understood that Mangado was the only architect, in the competition, who proposed retaining the street facades, demonstrating a considered and well-judged respect for the history of the street. Although the museum is only very subtly signed, there is no doubt that this special architectural event on the corner of the Cathedral Square is a public event worthy of further investigation by visitors. The handling of these retained facades with the new set-back ribbed cast glass backed with mirror, creates a very beautiful intriguing building - the juxtaposition of contemporary and original, turning rather plain but historic elevations into a remarkable composition of voids filled with an ethereal, shimmering light.
Contractor: SEDES S.A.
Structural Engineers: IDOM
M&E Engineers: IDOM
Cost Consultant: PAHISSA APAREJADORES SL, ALBERTO LOPEZ, ANGEL GARCIA, FERNANDO PAHISSA
Lighting Design: ALS LIGHTING CONSULTANTS
ACOUSTIC ENGINEERS: IDOM
INTERNAL AREA: 5,230 SQM
Date Of Occupation: 03/2015
PHOTOGRAPHER: PEDRO PEGENAUTE