Unión Europea

Building for a public space. 2021


In collaboration with Micheal Sweeney

Second Place in Open Competition

The dimension of the streets and density of the houses in the old town in Vigo was proportional, as seen in old photographs, to its low height. Small houses that, as in other historic centers, were located in a very fragmented parcel, with small interior spaces and scarce openings for natural light.

At present, many of the houses have been altered, introducing excessive heights and collective uses on the ground floor that, together with growing tourism, have substantially altered the perception of a space of which only its traces remain.

It is proposed to carry out a modest intervention, building little and maintaining the traces of the collective memory. It will be a functional response, a vegetal void, that will contribute to the rebalancing of a space adulterated by the passing of the years. For this, four types of action are put forward: Urban Integration –complying with regulations-; Functional innovation –proposing a public park and an auto-managed space-; Environmental Commitment –introducing vegetation and recycling-; and Phased Development - there is no need to execute all the work at the same time.

Urban integration

It is the big challenge of the intervention. On the one hand, there is a regulation that, even if it is respected, is questionable, that is the displacement of the original walls. Therefore, within the site envelope, these are to be left in their current location as a reflection of the existing structure. The façade line is maintained –which contributes to give scale to the Co-Cathedral- and arcades are introduced, expanding the square towards the interior. The maximum height lines, as well as the arcades, are set out in accordance with the regulations , although the floor dimensions are also maintained to emphasize the different individual plots that existed on the site.

Functional innovation

The possibility of creating a building without a defined use is an opportunity to introduce a flexible structure, where the concept of interior and exterior is diluted. It is pointless to speak of closed and open or inside and outside. In a society that has experienced the restrictions caused by COVID-19, it is proposed to enable a meeting space, of a public nature, creating a habitat that allows places of coexistence that helps to stop the privatization of public space. An open space is designed, a raised park , which maintains the relationship with the square but generates new points of view of the Collegiate Church and singles out each of the corners of the space.

Recycle and conserve

From the idea of preserving memory, it is about making the most of the existing stone walls and opting for a lightweight construction. Revisiting traditional construction systems and materials from a contemporary perspective, a direct relationship and dialogue is established with the rest of the buildings in the old town. Granite masonry walls, treated wood for exteriors, zinc sheets, trellis as support for vegetation. Materials commonly used. By introducing seasonal vegetation - the interior tree would be a sweetgum and the front vine, a combination of red ivy and climbing jasmine - it is possible to enrich the nuances and perceptions at different times of the year.