The task specifications were to design a visitor centre for a Celtic excavation site in Spanish La Coruña and to structure the surrounding area, which became famous, among other things, through the British-French battle of La Coruña (1809). The design plan is based on the landscape design concept which foresees integrating existing vegetation, paths and streets as well as agricultural areas into the overall project: The Parque de Elviña comprises the area where the excavations are taking place (Castro), a Celtic settlement reconstructed according to the contemporary research standards (Neo Castro), newly planted forest areas with original vegetation (oaks, sweet chestnut trees, laurels, hazelnut trees), and existing forest areas. This is completed by means of newly planted heathlands using original vegetation (gorse, blackberry, sandalwood), demonstration areas for earlier agriculture as well as modern-day field zones. In addition, there is the museum and car-parking spaces.
The new museum complex, situated between the parking lot and the old and new Castro, is comprised of three subterraneously connected volumes of different sizes – hence the ensemble is based on the basic form of a settlement and at the same time symbolises the development of human housing from huts to skyscrapers. The new buildings are prominent without dominating the authentic site.
While the smallest building structure accommodates the shop and administration premises, the middle building serves as a café-restaurant and also houses a crèche and overnight accommodation facilities. Finally, the museum is located in the largest of the buildings. Above the foyer on the ground floor and the areas for temporary exhibitions on the first floor, a sequence of exhibition rooms extends over a total of ten half-storeys. At the top, a terrace provides a comprehensive view over Castro and the surrounding countryside.
The exhibition rooms have a neutral appearance and can be utilized in a variety of ways; due to the casement windows, nearly all the rooms are able to relate to the landscape – the actual “object of exhibition.”
The cladding of the supporting structure is made of sheet metal – matted in the area of the restaurant, structured by the shop, while in the area of the museum it is visible from a distance, its shiny surface mirroring the surroundings.
Text: Hubertus Adam