City of Culture of Galicia Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Located on Monte Gaiás, a small hill overlooking Santiago de Compostela, the City of Culture is a new cultural center for the Province of Galicia in northwestern Spain.

The design evolves from the superposition of three sets of information. First, the street plan of the medieval center of Santiago is overlaid on a topographic map of the hillside site (which overlooks the city). Second, a modern Cartesian grid is laid over these medieval routes.
Third, through computer modeling software, the topography of the hillside is allowed to distort the two flat geometries, thus generating a topological surface that repositions old and new in a simultaneous matrix never before seen.
The original center of Santiago conforms to a figure/ground urbanism in which buildings are figural, or solid, and the streets are residual, or void spaces. Through this mapping operation, the project emerges as a curving surface that is neither figure nor ground but both a figured ground and a figured figure that supercede the figure-ground urbanism of the old city. Santiago’s medieval past appears not as a form of representational nostalgia but as a new yet somehow familiar presence found in a new form.
The six buildings of the project are conceived as three pairs: the Museum of Galician History and the New Technologies center, the Music Theater and Central Services building; and the Galician Library and Periodicals Archive.
Visitor’s experiences of any given building will be affected by its relationship to its immediate partner. The caminos, or pedestrian streets, that wind between the buildings also open onto a public square, which is bordered by the six buildings and features landscape and water elements. Size: one million square feet
Museum of Galician History: 172,000 square feet
New Technologies Center: 135,000 square feet
Music Theater: 220,000 square feet
Galician Library:122,000 square feet
Periodicals Archive: 86,000 square feet
Central Services building: 50,000 square feet

Total area: 173 acres
Project start: 2000
Expected Completion: 2010-2011
Buildings will open in phases beginning in 2006

Client: Fundación Cidade da Cultura de Galicia
Architect: Eisenman Architects

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