When architectural studio GPY Arquitectos was tasked with creating a 32 000 square meter Faculty of Fine Arts for the University of La Laguna in Tenerife, Spain, the team came up with an unusual idea for the facade. Their building appears striking thanks to huge panels of ribbed concrete that form curvaceous walls.
The undulating, ribbon-like walls have a remote resemblance to the famed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of art in New York. Like the Guggenheim, the curved concrete walls create a definite sense of direction, circulation and flow throughout the building.
With a site situated on the periphery of the campus, right next to a highway, the architects were faced with the challenge of how to keep the creative feel alive. The solution was a green corridor that runs through the entrance to a planted public plaza in the central courtyard creating green spaces at the heart of the building, and throughout.
This green “lung” is indeed an inspiring feature. But the real star of the design is undoubtedly the concept for the concrete walls of the building. The vertical grooves, or ribs, in these walls mimic the look and texture of corduroy fabric. At the same time, the walls showcase the coarse aggregate used in the concrete.
The rough concrete exterior of the building harks back to the Brutalism movement. However it is somewhat softened by the spiralling curves and greenery nestled within the design
The interior is a sharp contrast to the rough exterior. Concrete is one of the few building materials that lends itself to an endless array of textured finishes, and this is demonstrated here. Wood-imprinted concrete panels line the studios. These studios are linked by a central corridor and can be divided or joined through the use of partitions.
According to the architects, “We like to see the new Faculty of Fine Arts as a building that offers ground-breaking, innovative spaces for experimental and creative education of future students of visual arts.”
Judging by the inspiring outcome, they have certainly succeeded.
Photography by Filippo Poli