La Lechera Industrial complex forms an urban island which dominates the ring road adjacent to the river in Torrelavega. The building’s presence has been quiet over the last few decades, a latent symbol of a declining industry. Today, a project for a cultural centre aims to rebuild importance, giving life back to the building, converting it into a cultural engine that intensifies urban life for the city. Located on the city’s northwestern edge, the complex is surrounded by housing and sporting infrastructure. Thus, the project requires a specific urban and structural approach. We ask: how can a cultural container operate as an open public space while, at the same time, fulfil its programmatic requirements as a theatre, art gallery, classroom, library and storage facility?

How can we intensify the splendor of the precarious existing structure without compromising its intrinsic qualities? Our proposal addresses these pragmatic questions by redefining the building’s boundary, cleaning its decrepit core, and demolishing its more recent damaged additions. The radical intervention transforms the complex into an urban ensemble composed of different pitched roof volumes that host various programs. Each existing unit is stripped of its additional layers added over the years, restoring the building’s brick walls and steel roof structure to their original. Four new pitched volumes are proposed within the new rectangular footprint. A stacked brick roof volume accommodates the most intensive programmatic demands, giving the complex a new back facade that faces toward the ring road and the river.

Two new light and transparent volumes define the generous entrances. The southern lobby gives independent access to the museum, and the eastern one looks toward the city and acts as a sheltered public square. The eastern lobby also hosts the prominent existing chimney and sits between a market hall and a greenhouse. The final volume is a covered street acting as the common link between all buildings and programs. Defined by a minimal glass and polycarbonate envelope, these three light constructions protect from the rain and create a tempered climate along the building’s semi interior public spaces: two squares and one street. It is an urban complex that bridges Torrelavega’s industrial past and its forthcoming cultural life.

credits

architects: GFA2, Fernández-Abascal Muruzabál  |  team: Gabriel Fernández-Abascal, Guillermo Fernández-Abascal, Eduardo Fernández-Abascal, Floren Muruzábal, Benjamin Mitchell, Jack Cooper  |  client: Unknown  |  status: Competition (2021)  |  location: Torrelavega, Spain (43.355046, -4.055125)  |  climate: Oceanic / maritime, Temperate  |  materials: ceramic, glass, metal  |  environments: Industrial, Riverside  |  consultant: Aiguasol: Toni Herena  |  visualizer: Choirender  |  scale: large  |  types: cultural, cultural center, refurbishment  |  views: 983