credit David Frutos
words Oliver Wainwright
Shimmering in the midday sun, the MUCA Music Hall and House in Algueña by Cor & Asociados is a striking addition to this sleepy town in the Alicante province in south-eastern Spain.
It sits at the foot of the town’s quarried marble cliffs like a gigantic block of stone that has tumbled off the rock face and come to rest next to the old headquarters of the Civil Guard, completing its U-shaped courtyard.
A monolithic block, separated from the existing building by two glazed stair cores, its three blank faces are entirely clad in white pearlescent tiles, which were developed especially for this project. The pixellated surface changes throughout the day, responding to the shifting light and amplifying the dazzling quality of the surrounding marble landscape.
“Local politicians wanted a building that could act as a brand, a new landmark for the village,” says architect Miguel Rodenas. “Such buildings usually require expensive budgets, amazing materials and sculpted shapes, but here we developed a low-cost solution with a simple bold mass and a surface that plays with people’s perceptions.”
As part of the €780,000 project, the old Civil Guard building, which had lain derelict since the 1980s, was converted into a series of classrooms and rehearsal spaces. Meanwhile, the new block houses a flexible, 230-seat auditorium, lined with an acoustic armadillo-shaped shell, and is designed to host everything from music lessons to choir concerts, rock bands to village feasts. Large glazed doors allow activity to spill out on to a newly landscaped courtyard.
“The project was developed through extensive consultation with local residents and bands,” says partner Jesús Olivares. “We also invited 60 local artists to paint brightly coloured murals in the window reveals, which brought the whole village together to get involved in the construction.”
Its benefits are already being felt: one band has since recruited more students and gone on to win a national music competition – while the building itself has won a Tile of Spain award.