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El Pantà de Sau in Spain. Award-winning heritage interpretation center project

19 of September '22

{tag:studenci}, an architecture graduate from the Wroclaw University of Technology, took up the challenge of the international competition "El Pantà de Sau. A beacon for cultural heritage" organized by Larsen Liverpool. The task was to design a building on an artificial lagoon that hides the Spanish village of Sant Romà de Sau. The work of the Polish woman, which is a design for a cultural heritage interpretation center, received an honorable mention.

Z tafli wody wyłania się wieża kościoła

A church tower emerges from the surface of the water

© Maja Stankowska

flooded village

The organizers chose the Spanish valley of El Pantà de Sau as the project site. The area, now flooded, formerly housed the village of Sant Romà de Sau. The only visible remnant of it is a church tower protruding above the surface of the water. Today, this reservoir, is one of many that supply water to Barcelona. The reservoir is located in the Les Guilleries National Park, a protected mountainous area stretching over 8,300 hectares in Catalonia.

Widok na zalew z lotu ptaka

A bird's eye view of the lagoon

© Maja Stankowska

The challenge of the competition was to design a building, a landmark that would encourage visitors to the area and serve as a meeting place. The proposed facility was also to provide a space for meditation and reflection for visitors and the local community, so that they could, at least for a moment, forget their problems while admiring nature and the surrounding landscape.

Projekt ośrodka interpretacji dziedzictwa kultury, masterplan

cultural heritage interpretation center project, masterplan

© Maja Stankowska

honorable mention for a Polish woman

The submitted works were evaluated by a jury consisting of: Ryan Wenham, Marc Prats Nuñez, Daniela Pico Perez, Isabella D'ippoliti, Connah O'Neill. They awarded the Grand Prize to the team consisting of: Jiayun Xu, Sixing Huang, Haoyang Guo from the Netherlands, for a project entitled Route toward the Church. The Audience Awardwent to a work entitled A vernacular beacon in Panta de Sau by a team from France consisting of Selin Loss, Seungdo Choi and Mathilde Seiller. The jury also awarded five honorable mentions and five honorable mentions, among which was a project by Maja Stankowska entitled El Pantà de Sau. Cultural heritage interpretation center.

Projekt ośrodka interpretacji dziedzictwa kultury, aksonometria

axonometry of the designed center

© Maja Stankowska

thought-provoking architecture

Thegoal of the work of a graduate student at the Wroclaw University of Technology, which was also an engineering thesis done under the direction of Dr. Mark Lamber, was to design a cultural heritage interpretation center that would provide an additional attraction in the area, while respecting its current appearance and value.

Freeman Tilden, author of "Heritage Interpretation," wrote: "The main purpose of interpretation is not to teach, but to stimulate thought." It is this thought that objects with a heritage interpretation function should reflect. They should provide a space that introduces people to the feeling of interacting with something special. They play an important role in shaping human sensitivity to cultural heritage objects and their historical value. In my work, I have proposed a building that is an attempt to answer the question of how architecture can stimulate thought, induce reflection, and at the same time fit in with the surroundings and form a unified whole with them," says Maja Stankowska.

Projekt ośrodka interpretacji dziedzictwa kultury, punkt widokowy

vantage point

© Maja Stankowska

new building and marina

To create the project, I used a sketch of the urban layout of Sant Romà de Sau made by a former resident of the village. This subjective map became the basis for designing the spatial layout of the building and the path - a marina leading
toward the tower, which illustrates the metaphorical path to the now-defunct village," says the author.

The proposed building was placed on the bank of an artificial water reservoir - on the axis connecting the existing trail with the tower. The author embedded it in the terrain in such a way that the sight of visitors is slightly above the highest water level, providing a space conducive to undisturbed contemplation of the natural landscape and a moment of respite from everyday life. The form of the designed building itself is simple and horizontal, with its southern elevation made up of elongated windows that allow the building to illuminate the area at night and disappear among the mountains during the day.

When designing, the young architect referred to the work of Japanese designer Kenya Harye, author of many publications on sensory architecture and the "theory of sensory sensitivity."

This idea of shaping space is well suited to buildings with an exhibition function. My building sensitizes the viewer to the surroundings by affecting his senses. It directs the user's gaze to the most important point in the area - the tower, through various perspective solutions. It provides a wide range of sensations of space through formal treatments," Kaja explains.

Projekt ośrodka interpretacji dziedzictwa kultury

At night, the building lights up the neighborhood

© Maja Stankowska

architectural lantern

The object, referring to the title of the competition, is an "architectural lighthouse."

In my work I proposed to approach the subject in a metaphorical way. The idea is to preserve the main function of the lighthouse, which is to transmit information by means of light signals, but to depart from its characteristic vertical orientation. For the sake of the dominant feature, which is the church tower, the designed object does not compete with it. Instead, it creates a complement to the natural landscape with educational and cultural values contained in a horizontal block hidden in the terrain during the day and shining brightly at night, the author adds.

Projekt ośrodka interpretacji dziedzictwa kultury, rzut poziomu 0.

0 level projection.

© Maja Stankowska

landmark and meeting place

The building provides a backdrop for local events and the natural landscape, and is a landmark for tourists and the local community. At ground level, there are only two walls directing the visitor's gaze to important viewpoints, while underground, a space with a muted character and an open spatial layout has been designed, which the author says provides a clean connection to the spirit of the place.

Projekt ośrodka interpretacji dziedzictwa kultury, przekrój podłużny

the center is sunk into the ground

© Maja Stankowska

By partially sinking into the ground, the facility takes advantage of the natural heating properties of the earth, which facilitates control of the climate inside and contributes to a significant reduction in operating costs. As the designer explains, the thermal mass of the earth provides great thermal insulation benefits. The building was constructed in reinforced concrete construction supplemented with local finishing materials, and equipped with a ventilation system with heat recovery, and a retention tank to collect rainwater.

The concept I presented is an attempt to provide a space that will prompt visitors to analyze the area on their own and individually interpret its dual character," Maja Stankowska concludes.


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