Embroidering the Edge | E13

Europan 13 - A Coruña, Spain

“Knowing, apreciating and recognizing the environment; understand, feel and claim the site, preserve, refubrish and transform the place” Yi-Fu Tuan, 1930
The place is a dynamic concept, a difuse word based on the personal experience of the scenery. A place is not only beautiful in its forms, but also in its sounds, light and sights. The area in this competition is precisely a bunch of lines knot together along the shore, creating a line, and horizon full of complexity, that trough time has become ill, transformed and blurry until showing its wounds. Complexity: it wounds, its use, its place have taken the sight away from its essence, only understood in a perceptive manner. This site’s contrast disturbs the first sight, terrifies, challenges. But it is, precisely there, where its interest and beauty is based. Drawing this place means showing all its good points and only with a few more lines of an architectural proposal show its nature.

“I said: the horizon is a complex of cartesian lines. Then, he said: because we live in a box over another box, and I said: life has finally made an impenetrable labyrinth, and he added: where to know each other is a great adventure, nevertheless, I said: there will always be a place to meet up” [Gallego, Centros da Terra, 1999]

The proposed area in this contest is in fact a complex of lines that amalgamate in the coast border creating a profile. This horizon of complexities has become inflammated, disrupted and entangled over time until it finally has shown his wounds.

On the first sight over the territory the wounds are visible: disconnection, obstacles, high speed, marginality. A territory that the city has tried to phagocyte imposing a range of scales that collides with the site and its identity. A place where the landscape sets clues of its open sea condition, tamed in a organic way to find the human scale formed by relations of soft amalgams that -like small surprises- are discovered when walked.

“The city today is the background of a frenetic activity that loses its identity, its categories, where it is easy to get lost in the image, in the flows and in the virtual, but this can’t justify the complacency behavior that gets closer to the mainstream speech that to compromise” [Juan Creus, 2007]

The approach tries to resolve and heal the visible small dama¬ges in the territory as a preface to an architectonic interven¬tion. The obligatoryness of this previous analysis and prologue proposition of the project is created by the first sight of the site. A curious, interrogative, analytic and critic sight. Therefore it is a two phase proposal: the first one trying to correct the local damages acting in the globality and the second one proposing an architectonic solution linked to the scene, shedding light over its graciousness, its scale and all that makes it a proper human habitat.

Preface and project are both guided to solve the exposed problems: disconnection, obstacles, interference of uses and a certain incoherence in the land-sea relation. Conceptually, the discovered problems are structural, so they affect the whole site. However, in a tangible and detailed way, there are some areas that still have their natural potential.

By detecting and distinguishing the territory through its wounds and its potentialities, it becomes a whealthy area of hatches and refinements that is necessary to clean to obtain a clear dis¬tilled base to build on. The superposition of hatches perceived through a critic view creates studio zones where the interven¬tion its made consciously from a reasoned base. Finally the complex of studio zones that form a defined and clear territory through hatches, concepts and common structures allows a homogeneous intervention with punctual refinements.

The proposal is defined by four conceptual interventions that materialize through the project:

-Territory REstructuration

-REorganization of connections and mobility

-REactivation of the coast line

-REvision and REarrangement of the residential fabric

from1984to1989 · Embroidering the Edge | E13

The ‘RE’ prefix appears in the intervention to remember the terri¬tory is full of potential and its slight wounds are the cause of its current state of decadence and deterioration. It isn’t the case of a territory that needs a massive and protagonist solution, but a site that needs to recover its natural balance where propose a sustainable, coherent and sensible solution in terms of growth and mobility. Therefore it is necessary and proposed a node-composed solution to generate a knitted and continuous solu¬tion on the site. A project that can be perceived integrated on the landscape and, at the same time, helps it to work correctly by the linking its nodes.

from1984to1989 · Embroidering the Edge | E13

1 Territory REstructuration

The intervention area obeys various scales. There’s the general metropolitan scale that contents the site. Comming closer, there’s an intermediate scale of internal structuration of the territory and its connection with the surroundings. There’s also a detail one where the fabric shows the elements it is compo¬sed of.
The project is a work over this scale games, restructuring in each one the territory base. In a metropolitan scale the site is used to give continuity to the superior urban hatches, crea¬ting a communications tight net, in the intermediate, the site is rearranged in order to fit in this superior system and in the smaller there’s a replacement and reactivation of its elementa¬ry components.
The rearrangement of the area in relation to the metropolitan area takes place through different changes the city is suffering nowadays. First, the transformation of the old railroad and the change of use that will emerge in San Diego Station. Then, the disappearance of the pipeline and its infrastructure creating a potential connection and the change of nature of the industrial meridional seaside. And, finally, the study of all the flows connecting the city with the surrounding villages passing right through the project site, creating an inflammation that deteriorates the way of understanding the territory and its comprehension as a healthy habitat.
The main consequence of this reordenation is the conversion of the railroad creating a tram that permits, in one hand, to ease off the coast line and, in the other, improve the access to the hospital complex in a healthy and soft way. Secondly, working over the traffic flows permits to create a better contact with the site nature and a sense of approach by decreasing the passing speed, while increasing the contact with the ground and the essence of the landscape and the territory of the site.

An approaching from this ideas generates a serial of recogni¬zable nodes that supports the projectual base in the conside¬red terms of scale. This nodes emerge with the critical analysis of the territory.

from1984to1989 · Embroidering the Edge | E13

2 REorganization of connections and mobility

Even though in a metropolitan scale the massive flows are present as arteries of strong and speed movements, when co¬ming closer and working in a smaller and more human-based second range of scales, it surfaces the complex of nodes that determinate the points to articulate the project.

They are perceived as obstacles by walking the intervention area. Objects emerged of a unlucky comprehension of the site that must be solved. Even thought is possible to perceive some elements that must be maintained based on its patrimonial value conserved over time. This chain of nodes is the one that connects internally this disconnected territory. From its disco¬very grow the new relations to reactivate it. This noticeable nodes are the hospitals, the traditional constructions as the ‘ce¬táreas’, the school, and industrial building currently included as a part of the gypsy settlement, the docks, the rural settling, the second school in the north of the site, the ruin inside it and four catalogued houses with patrimonial value.

The connection of these nodes is made through the public spa¬ce, understanding it as a continuous surface with refinements (soft zones, hard zones, semi-soft zones, semi-hard zones) that allows the inside transit of the site. By linking this nodes in an analytic way a reorganization of the mobility appears and some of the former uses become critic. Is this why the reloca¬tion of certain school buildings or the reestructuration of the old school installation is made to refine its behaviour.
Entering the scale game appears a new concept: the per¬ception. The spatial perception of this territory is to be in a constant transit from one scale to another without any organic order but by contrast, creating perception disturbances. That’s why the territory, through the connection of nodes that confor¬ms the support, is zoned in different areas where surface some articulable connection points.

The transition from one zone to another takes place in an as-open-as-possible connection to cushion the scale gap to the fullest. The main connections occur in the triangle formed by the universitary hospital-the old school-the rural settlement, the rural settlement-the maternity hospital, the maternity hospital-the free space above it and, finally, by the area under Puente de Pasaje and the south limit of the plot.

Solved each of these connections in a consciously way in rela¬tion to the superior scales the articulation of the territory is full. Without any obstacles. In a natural way. The project intentiona¬lly explores the reduction of obstacles to achieve the most and more natural behaviour of the site -like a living organism-. The project integrates the landscape and is perceived (in)visible.

from1984to1989 · Embroidering the Edge | E13

3 REactivation of the coast line

An essential concept in the proposed site is the relationship with the sea. It’s common, in traditional fishing settlements, that the coast line has been industrialized, understanding the sea as a resource to be exploited instead of a ecosystem to live with in symbiosis. This traditional misunderstood generates damages in the shore, highlighting the isolation between land and sea that produces an autistic relationship not rewarding for the zone habitat.
The reactivation of the coast line is a radical premise in our proposal. Located in the lowest base of the structural support of this territory, the sea is the main character. The one that permits the settlement have its current morphology. The one that marks from its own scale or its chromatic range (very characteristic in the fisherman’s rural settlements) to the way of living on the spot, where the sea appears gentle, domestic, in human scale.

It is proposed a reactivation based on the domestic perception of the wildness. Beginning from small construction that barely transform the shore and the preexistences as docks or mollusc’s farms, a traditional fabric is created merging land and sea, liberating the border through the the territorial restructuration for¬merly mentioned. The sea forms this way part of the territory, in a easy but not simple way. With just one small sign it’s settled on the roots of this territory, admitting its nature and incorpora¬ting it to the project just as it is.

from1984to1989 · Embroidering the Edge | E13

4 REvision and REarrangement of the residential fabric

In a deep analysis of the habitat state of the proposed territory, it is stated that the zone presents a certain disparity regarding to its current use. It shows a combination of urban equipment and disfunctional residence. This is why, after perambulate the place checking the current habitat characteristics it is proposed to find a state of balance.

The territorial balance is this point in which is possible a trans¬pirable use of the site, where no inflammations are conceived as a result of the congestion and where the way to inhabit is social and culturally sustainable. Conceptually is a very com¬plex strategy where the humans behaviour or the variations in the territory may change the balance in a strong way caused by unexpected external reasons. That’s why a evolutionary balance, understanding this evolution in a phase sequence, is needed to re-conduct the habitat growth or the territory use if it’s necessary.

It’s proposed a residential fabric that can be extensive. To measure this fabric the current residential hatch is valuated, counting the current number of inhabitants in the site. From this number of inhabitants a it’s established the potentiality of the rural settlement they’re living, estimating a number for the urban consolidation. Establishing this number a new residential fabric is created using similar spatial conditions avoiding a over-satu¬ration of the site, preventing another unnecessary inflammation. The rural settlement is sustainable and it will remain the same once consolidated. To propose a residential fabric that repro¬duces these concepts is the right solution to this territory.

The residential fabric is a complex hatch that matches the initial strategy of balance. Instead of its apparent simplicity, it is a solution obtained after the overlapping of different functional, movement and urban quality hatches. Its morphology drifts from the territorial support, its conceptual deffinition of balance and its constructive materiality extracted from the site. Ultimately, the habitat looks for the balance between men and site, adjusting even more the relationship between men and sea.

from1984to1989 · Embroidering the Edge | E13

& Conclusion

The complexity of this territory: its wounds, its use, its position divert the sight from its essence, only understandable from a perceptive point of view. The contrast of this site is the one that destabilizes at first sight. Scares. Defies. But it is, precisely there, where all its interest and beauty resides.

“In a line the world comes together.

With a line the world is divided.

Drawing is beautiful and terrible.”

[Chillida, Open air sculptures, 2003]

Drawing this territory is to reflect what is worth in this site, and, only with a few more lines from an architectural project, to show its nature. Beautiful and terrible, the project in this site is a drawn line that tries to divide the obstacle to make it disappear and to join men and sea natures. A sea that its the main character of a project conceived in a town sculpted by water.

from1984to1989 · Embroidering the Edge | E13

A The proposal

“When I crossed the bridge, it was like walking over a huge photograph made of wood and steel and, under it, the river was like a huge film that showed a white image” [Robert Smithson, A stroll around the monuments of Paissac, New Jersey.]

The territorial basis that has been analyzed allows a proposal in a sensitive manner, from tangible comprehension of forms, structure and potentialities. The proposal is founded on preser¬vation and adaptation to connectivity conditions and required use trough light structures. Interventions is arranged based in layered threads working tridimensionally. As a thread, each la¬yer has its own internal sense that works in simbiosis, creating continuity that solves conection

B Use and movement

The program is composed of a series of uses depending on their privacy: residential, public residential, commercial, lei¬sure and transport equipment. Emerging from this typology, the intervention is proposed by using light elements.
Structural logic of the site allows a new organization. Residential and commercial uses are combined and placed in the south of the area, more open. This decision means placing the residential activity in a privileged area where the shore is more pleasant and the space in front of it is featured with leisure activity. The residential use joins an immediate public space, open and with several ephemeral activities that enriches it.

Leisure and public spaces are distributed along the routes in the proposal. Below the hospital a light connection element allows paths to follow the lines and mix with ephemeral or permanent public uses. The upper zone in the area is solved by adding a new connection element inside a wrec¬ked building. This new element joins the hospital and the schools with the proposal as a whole.

All the elements are solved by a very same architectonic and constructive logic, in every layer. Three layers are defined: water layer (subdivided in two depending on the tides), land layer and elevated layer.

Water layer is composed by a unique shore intervention, trying to improve the relationship with the sea. The pro¬ject proposes working with topography, reading marine construction already existing, joining them to public space, in the form of leisure areas: swimming pools, cafeterias, outdoor restaurants, sport activities and games. This layer uses the tide movements, creating a dynamic space where this phenomenon is perceived, going back to the nature of the site and its relationship with the sea.

Land is composed by a job on paths and sidewalks, an explained analysis on this intermediate layer and its features to define hard, semihard, soft and semisoft surfaces. Land layer is the one that balances the two other ones by using pavement and trees, reorganizing routes, and defining speed, time and space.
Elevated layer is formed by light steel structures seeking for trans¬parency and slenderness, from tower and catwalk combination. Housing and commerce are placed inside a block and a tower, that a t the same time divides the land below creating a huge public space. South area of the proposal, in an almost symbiotic manner, a connection element appears a train-tram station that converts this railway in a tram, so this line becomes softer and permeable. Adjacent to this element, a tower allows ac¬cess to a catwalk parasite from the Pasaje Bridge, connecting with the front shore. Below the hospital a new structure allows a leisure use and an integrated connection among public route spaces.


“You cannot see nature, just images”

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832

Movement in the project is composed by different timing and speed, showed in the proposal features. It is possible now wal¬king along the shore, continuous, but also connect faster among elements. Spaces become alive and dynamic, conditioned by the user and the perception of experiences in the site.

There are different types of paths. The car is left outside the pro¬posal, the housing construction features a garage where the car can be left, only people living in the village can enter their cars. The train is transformed now in a tram line, softer, permeable and connecting the site with the city and its metropolitan area. Routes by bike or on foot are held in experience, and images are now, mixed with natural proposal, enrichening space, alive and dynamic.

From time and landscape

“There is no finished landscape, definitive and formed, each one is composed by already existing elements and combine ones after, instantly, is a destroyed form, kept in the memory as a seismic scheme already started”

[Otero Pedrayo]

The place is a dynamic concept, a word with no easy defi¬nition, held in personal experience on landscape. A place is beautiful not only in its forms, but in its sounds, touch, light and found sights. Designing, organizing or proposing something in this place became an act of perception where a stage is proposed to enriches experience. We have proposed a series of layers, working together and working easy, but without ex¬perience it will not make sense. Our intervention is a proposal for a place where, in time, with its sounds, lights, sights, walks or smiles can transform architecture in a landscape full of expe¬riences. There is no finished landscape, but neither stopped, there are experiences, memories in which the place means just an architectural basis.


Nuria Prieto González (ES)

Ángel Montero Pérez (ES)

Hugo Malvar Álvarez (ES)

Diego Lucio Barral (ES)

Omar Curros Simón (ES)