The protection of an important archaeological find is included in that number of interventions where antiquity confronts with modernity, and the find is confronted with the landscape.
The transcription of the historical sign takes place through a series of strategic phases whose main problem is the discontinuity between two systems temporally far, and the correct adjustment of an architectonic language that may suggest a dialectic relation without avant-garde experiments. A language devoid of historic and vernacular comebacks, consistent with a lawful genealogical process of superimposition of the parts to be surveyed. In this respect, remarkably important is the structural question of the use of extended roofs and regular elements that may preserve the continuity of pre-existing traces. A special relevance has the issues of the ground attachments, particularly in that "bonded" zone that marks the outer limit between new old. This principle determines the ways in which the discontinuous, new elements are to be laid on the pre-existing ruins, with modalities of intervention that take into account the most appropriate use of the different technologies and materials. Another kind of sensibility is required for finding the best way to capture natural light, to avoid a too marked dark-light contrast and obtain a more homogenous lighting more suitable for a correct exposure of the finds.
Another aspect to be considered is the co-existence and participation of the surrounding landscape; and lastly, the flexibility of the buildings, a value that needs to be favoured in structures necessarily "open" to future changes. In1968, the casual discovery of a bronze find of Roman epoch marked the start of a digging campaign that brought to light the archaeological site of the Olmeda. Among the scattered wall ruins, in a site of immense value as far as the landscape was concerned, the excavations brought to light the remains of a Roman building, more precisely of a country-villa that dated back to the final period of the Roman Empire, among the most complete and rich to be found in Roman Spain.
Toward the half of the 90's, at the time that the site was being arranged, the hypothesis was made of a more thorough work of preservation for the whole complex. The valorisation program of the archaeological site included the construction of a roof for the excavations, the protection of the mosaics in situ, and building an exhibition and study centre for tourists and archaeologists.
A cor-ten steel slab with the recessed characters ‘VRO’ placed in a curvilinear pathway marks the access to the site. Leading to the entrance of the archaeological area a row of poplar trees escort a linear parking lot, made in such a way that it can’t no longer be perceived once visitors have entered the exhibition route. The more specific functional program envisions the placing, inside the archaeological settlement, of four new built elements that 'interfere' with the exhibition itinerary. These are four wood-coated pavilions, much lower than the intrados of the general roofing, whose making and material allude to the tree trunks of the surrounding wood. The first two of these pavilions frame the gathering place of the access vestibule comprehending the bookshop, the cafeteria, rest rooms and offices, placed along the border of the villa. The other pavilions wind along a route, which is slightly raised with respect to the site's level. In the third pavilion the auditorium is placed, followed by the exhibition hall, open to the finding. The fourth, next to the personnel's side entrance, houses the restoration workshop.
The whole architectonic complex is protected by a wide metallic structure of four vaulted roof modules and one lowered plane module that connects with the restoration area. 110 pilasters and four freestanding pillars support all the structure. The steel supports are arranged according to a longitudinal mesh that follows the plan metric subdivision of the villa, starting from the square impluvium. They are situated outside the translucent facade in polycarbonate that provides the homogenous lighting of the interior. The enwrapping rhomboidal roof structure is situated in light contact with the upper vertical part of the facade on a white concrete plinth enclosing the entire perimeter of the villa at the visitors level. All the new volumes and the partially delimited archaeological zones are joined by a raised floor made of wooden slats that present paced connections. The outline of the itinerary gets narrow and expands depending on the width of the mosaics to be observed, with a disposition thought for an open display. On the outside of the building, the upper part above the concrete plinth is surrounded by a folding façade. These perforated cor-ten steel, that attenuates solar irradiation and casts scattered shadows to the interior, are responding by scale and appearance to the surrounding poplar tree cultivations. To sum up, the architectonic operation as a whole consists of various intervention phases that both altimetrically and planimetrically build a stratigraphic process of superimposition of the parts.
Gruppo di progettazione
Ángela García de Paredes, Ignacio Pedrosa
Collaboratori: Clemens Eichner, Álvaro Rábano, Eva Urquijo, Andrea Franconetti, Eva M. Neila
Controllo tecnico: Luis Calvo