©MORPHtopia 2020

LOCATION Marchamalo, Spain
PROGRAM Library, Archive, Exhibition, Conference
YEAR 2019
CLIENT Marchamalo City Council 
STATUS Competition
The origins of the municipality of Marchamalo are of vital importance in the conception of this design. A first Celtic settlement, specifically Carpelos, and later Hispano-Roman would have been located near the Via Dominicana under the name of Arriaca. Its location is estimated to be in the current area of 'El Tesoro'; a crossing of roads and now a site of agricultural plots in the northeast area of the current Marchamalo. Various archaeological finds over the last two centuries (1840 and 1900 - F. Fita, 1929 - Guadalajara archaeological guide, 1988 - Juan Manuel Abascal, 2007-217 - Ildefonso Ramírez) speak of a late-Roman necropolis in use from approximately 230 to 390 AD in which several epigraphic tombstones, sets of coins, iron objects, painted ceramics, glass and needles have been found. Of special interest for this project is the batch of metal pieces made up of knives, spearheads and other tools whose shapes will be translated into pieces of the new building program.

In the morphology of the urban core of Marchamalo two clear axes are differentiated. The first one is developed around the southeast-northwest axis, which crosses a historic city center of irregular and labyrinthine nature in which small buildings of one or two floors are accumulated. They juxtapose to each other and give rise to streets that widen and compress in a significant network of public spaces and squares associated with this axis. The second axis, much more recent, is oriented from north to south and it identifies the main facilities closer to the old town. The extension of this axis would connect with the ancient settlement of Arriaca. Possibly due to programmatic requirements, the dimensions and volume of these new buildings break the scale of the traditional constructions of the village. The plot of the new Cultural Center is located in a privileged position at the junction of both axes, almost as an invitation to remember the crossroads in which the old Arriaca was located ...

This connection with history, even if symbolic, creates a solid structure on which the citizen can feel identified and represented. This call to the ancient settlement of Arriaca is unique and specific thanks to the particular historical and cultural conditions of Marchamalo. The new building must be more than a mere space of facilities.

It must generate a feeling of collective identification on which to promote social and cultural encounter. The metaphor of Arriaca is not simply a design opportunity to generate certain architectural forms and functions; it goes beyond this and represents the essence and reality of the design itself. The new building should be able to reflect the physical, historical, social and cultural environment in which it is based.
Thus, three are the premises on which the project appears: 1) the relationship with the settlement of Arriaca -both physical and figurative-, 2) the location of the building at the intersection of urban axes, and 3) the local dimension of the surrounding constructions.

The iron objects found in the archaeological site are scattered throughout the plot. They have similar dimensions to the traditional constructions of Marchamalo. The design moves away from the massive and monolithic scale of the other public buildings. From the internal point of view of the project, each object is a function, but they are 'buildings' from the urban point of view. The new Cultural Center is not a single building, but several ... They are different pieces that enter into dialogue, conflict and tension among themselves. They overlap and separate. They isolate themselves and come together again. They form connections and voids at the same time. How they are grouped has to do with how the small houses in the historic center are organized and juxtaposed.

The block, on its north and east sides, is occupied by a series of row houses with interior patios that form a low-lying dividing wall. The wall serves as support for the organization of the new pieces. This produces that the block is completed in a coherent way. Almost like heads that discreetly overlook the street, the elevations of the North and East streets are completed, extending the dimensions of existing houses. The pieces react in harmony with their surrounding neighbours.