Córdoba Architecture Foundation

January 2010, Córdoba, Spain  
This project is a rejection of style, fashion, tectonics, and signature.
It is about the creation of space, illusion, and void.
It is the triumph of space over architecture.
A haven for opportunity, a place without restrictions, a white canvas that is free to change or to remain the same.
The Architecture Foundation will not be bound by style, fashion, name, or time.
It will be atemporal, universal, whatever it is wished to be, for as long as it is wished to be.
The façade offers one option only: an entry.
The foundation is a spatial connection. It brings you from the street into the secret garden.
The façade is only an entrance. The rest is an illusion.
The void is illusory, the perspective magically changes, the space expands, it grows and it changes; architecture disappears, and only space is left.
The only reality is the proportion of the façade: an A4.
Only three parts: programme, void, and circulation.
The void generates the building. The void is the connection between all the functions of the foundation. It is able to enlarge each programme. It will always be open, public.
All programmes can be fully connected or disconnected and never meet.
Front and back facade look the same, but only one is real. The other is an illusion. Nothing matters besides the void.

There are three parts: programme, void, and circulation. The installations run vertically in the perimeter walls. The circulations occupy the small appendix in the plan. The programme is the negative of the void; it is pure space. The void is the positive; the void is the street.

It will be atemporal, universal, whatever it is wished to be, for as long as it is wished to be.

-In summer, the cafeteria remains open until 3.00 a.m. On Saturdays and as today is Museum Night, the archaeological site will be lit up until that time. Today also saw the opening of the Le Corbusier exhibition.
The Foundation organized a dinner for the Chilean architects who came to visit Cordoba. While they were having dinner they were able to contemplate the archaeological remains. The ensuing cocktail party took place in the void. The bookshop was open until midnight and had placed all bookcases in the void. The office did not open today.
The Le Corbusier exhibition was a great success. A documentary on his house in La Plata was shown and later the director of the foundation gave a short speech. More assistants than expected were present but within seven minutes the annex meeting room was put into operation and the hall was enlarged to accommodate everybody. There is a couple on the roof terrace. They have been there for almost two hours, looking at the stars. Their friends are out in the Street of the Mirror, a small orchestra plays flamenco music…; locals and visitors have started to dance…It is an incredible night.

-There is only one entrance – or an exit – the remainder is free: free from shapes, styles, names, irony, fashion, and time.

-The bookshop is run by Javier. The bar is owned by Conchi, and his girlfriend takes care of the kitchen and menus. Ana is curator for the exhibitions of the foundation, and the archaeological site is supervised by Paco from the Municipality. The offices belong to the foundation; the void belongs to everybody.

-They are closing already…
-…. Let’s get down through the exhibition today

-I am waiting for my daughter. She met somebody at the Le Corbusier exhibition…
-I am just having a rest.

-…I like it more when the curtains are open.
-…not me… Everybody can see us

-The void generates the auditorium. It is a single space that will articulate the exhibitions, the lectures, the projections …
-Last time a curtain closed off the stage, like in the Kuntshal in Rotterdam

-This street seems pretty long…and it is only 20 metres…
-I love the space
-Borromoni used a similar trick in the small dome at San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane in Rome
-yes…and in the Palazzo Spada too

The façade is just that: a façade. There is only one real element: a void…it will be always open.
The façade is a DIN A4.


Autonomy: Each function can be connected and work as one. But each function can also be completely independent and never meet up with another function.

Each programme can be enlarged; they open up to the void.

-The bookshop organizes there a fair, selling old magazine. The bar uses the void as a terrace… nicely shielded from the sun; today, the exhibition starts from here. Models and drawings are displayed in the void… luckily it is protected from the rain and the sun… The archaeological remains are visible from here as well…

Economical: Flexibility in programme, ownership, and management.
Social: Urban strategy of connection with the garden. The façade can change according to participative strategies. The void is a public space.
Environmental: West facade is closed. The building only opens to the east and to the void, always shaded and thus cool, and it allows for fantastic cross ventilation to the entire foundation.

The plan is the same as the section.

-This building is fascinating…
-Spaces look much bigger or smaller than they really are…

-..Is there a ramp here?
-..I am not sure if it is the floor that slopes up or only the ceiling that is sloping down…

The remnants of the roman circus are recovered and exposed. Glass walkways bring the visitors close to the ruin. Openings in the void, in the floors of the café and of the bookshop, and in the underground levels as well, allow the ruins to be viewed from street level.

-…the building seems to be buried deeply underground..
-yes, almost as much of it as is above ground…

Surroundings: The success of the interventions in the surroundings lies in the provision of storage space for each function. This allows for a rapid and versatile change of programmes.

Blind walls:
Day: hundreds of geraniums will be donated by the people to decorate the white walls. They will be like pixels.
Night: hundreds of low consumption light tubes will create an enormous installation of light

-…During the night, this place seems enchanted…

The Street of the Mirror: A mirror is placed in the blind wall. The cul de sac disappears.

Parking and stage: Car and bike parking lot can be transformed into a two-sided stage. Chairs are stored under the platform. Rails will hold the curtains to close off the space.

Access: Platforms and accessibility ramps easily lead from Capitulares Street into the secret garden through the void.

-… while walking through the void there is a charming illusion of confusion…

-This must be the entrance to the inner garden. Should we enter?

– – –

Title: FAC Cordoba
Project Name: Sede de la Fundación de Arquitectura Contemporánea y Entorno de la Manzana de San Pablo en Córdoba. (Contemporary Architecture Foundation + Reurbanization of San Pablo District, Córdoba)
Date: January 2010 / Results May 2010
Type: International Open Competition in two phases
Organizer: Fundación Arquitectura Contemporánea
Participants: 218
Ranking: Last rounds + Selected for publication
Location: Córdoba, Spain.
Site: Manzana de San Pablo. Calle Capitulares 2 – 4
Programme: Exhibition rooms, bookshop, café, administration offices, archeological museum + re-urbanization of interior gardens.
Surface: 1226 m² (building) + 10.000 m² (garden)
Status: Competition
Client: Fundación Arquitectura Contemporánea
Budget: N/A
Publications: Concurso de Idea, Sede de la Fundación Arquitectura Contemporánea, Córdoba, Spain, July, 2010
STAR Team: Beatriz Ramo, Guadalupe Hernández, Xiana Méndez, Elia Salcedo, Daniel Díez.