Two architecture practices converted the damaged 20th-century structure into a new cultural space for the Spanish city, with minimal interventions
Architecture practices GFA2 and Fernández-Abascal & Muruzábal have completed the adaptive reuse of a waterside warehouse in Santander, Spain, turning it into an art gallery for the Enaire Foundation.
The building – originally dating to 1901 – is located in the former port of Santander and overlooks Santander Bay. It started as a warehouse, was later extended with a workshop, then became an archive and office before falling into disrepair. When GFA2 and Fernández-Abascal & Muruzábal took on the reuse project in 2018, the warehouse was substantially damaged.
The architects promptly undertook an extensive restoration and cleaning process, then carefully renovated the building – while respecting its historical architecture – to accommodate the new exhibition requirements. Meanwhile, they painted the entire exterior white, to become what they describe as ‘a milky, long building’.
The building comprises a primary hall space with an adjoining annex. The principal gallery occupies the entire 40m length of the main space, while the other functions and services – toilets, offices, storage and a temporary gallery – are located in the annex. Interventions are kept to a minimum: there is a new roof with a long skylight, refurbished steel trusses, an entrance canopy and four external openings – two doors and two big windows.
The space surrounding the building has been landscaped, comprising a cobblestone plaza outside the entrance, beds of herbaceous plants, and a long stone bench along the south-facing exterior wall offering public seating.
‘The nuanced intervention produces an abstracted exterior while housing a serene interior,’ explain the architects. ‘Punctual and explicit operations convert the existing industrial complex into a new cultural container for the city.’
Photography by Luis Díaz Díaz
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