Piano’s seaside concerto
This distinctive new building has been designed to reflect its bright surroundings of sea and sunlit sky.
A NEW centre for contemporary art, Centro Botin, opened recently in the Cantabria region of northern Spain. Intended as a permanent home for the art, cultural, and educational programmes of Fundacion Botin, a private Spanish philanthropic organisation founded in 1964, the centre was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Situated on Santander’s waterfront, on the site of a former parking lot, the centre is right next to Santander Old Town and is set in the historic Pereda Gardens. The building is raised above ground and comprises two smoothly rounded blocks, rising 20m above sea level, which are linked by steel and glass walkways. The facade is covered with 280,000 rounded, pearl-coloured ceramic tiles that reflect the changing colours of the sea and the sky.
The west section is dedicated to art, with exhibition galleries on two levels, offering spectacular views over the sea and the surrounding gardens. On the outside, small slats of silkscreened glass prevent light from entering the gallery space. This section is also home to a restaurant, stores, and leisure areas.
The east section is for educational and cultural activities, with an auditorium for concerts, lectures, and conferences. The north part has spaces for holding classes, art workshops, music lessons, dance lessons, and cookery workshops for children, teens, families and adults.
On the outside, visitors can enjoy a new amphitheatre and screen, which will be used for open-air film screenings.
Italian architect Piano – who famously co-designed the
game-changing Centre Georges Pompidou art museum in Paris in 1977 with British architect Richard Rogers – has won several prestigious prizes for his work, including the Royal Institute of British Architects’ much sought after Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1989, the equally important Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998, and the AIA Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 2008. His other standout projects include two in the United States – the renovation and expansion of the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York – the London Bridge Tower in London, the Torre Intesa Sanpaolo in Turin in Italy, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens.
The Fundacion Marcelino Botin was founded in 1964 by Marcelino Botin Sanz de Sautuola to promote the social, economic, and cultural development of the region of Cantabria in Spain. Today, it is presided over by Javier Botin. The foundation organises programmes in the fields of art, culture, education, science, and rural development, and supports social institutions in Cantabria. Santander has been the home to four generations of the Botin family, founders of Spanish banking group Banco Santander, which is also headquartered in Cantabria. — AFP Relaxnews
The Centro Botin’s facade is covered with 280,000 rounded, pearl-coloured ceramic tiles that reflect the changing colours of the sea and the sky. Inset: Piano.
The two parts of the building are linked by steel and glass walkways.