Civil war Shelters of Almería (Almería) 2017

1st. Prize in Competition.

Its objective was to protect from the bombings to the almost 40,000 inhabitants of the city of Almeria during the war. Its recovery as a cultural and historical element of undoubted interest, is closely linked to its symbolism as a testimony of the Spanish civil war. This circumstance, together with its architectural-engineering value, place the refuges as one of the most important works built in Almería during the 20th century, constituting, therefore, one of the most significant elements of the city’s historical heritage and memory.

Its rehabilitation is aimed at recovering a 756 meter long section located at the center of the city under the current Walk of Almería, whose characteristics give it a greater singularity than the others: The width of the galleries is bigger than the rest and is provided with a series of elements that at that time provided a vital service for the people who used them, highlighting as the most significant a small hospital.

The rehabilitation project is divided into two parts: The strict rehabilitation of the underground galleries and the new surface for access and exits. The main idea of the rehabilitation of the galleries has been to guarantee the safety of the visitors without detracting the original spaces that Langle projected, limiting us to an exhaustive and intense work of cleaning and consolidation of all the elements. Thus, the complex system of installations from which the shelters have been provide has been hidden under the sun and only two steel pipes are visible which refer to the two copper wires that were part of the lighting system. The new projected elements are the access pavilion and a set of three small pieces at the exit.

The access pavilion is a parallelepiped, built in concrete, steel cut and engraved glass, which allows the control and management of all the facilities necessary for the use of the refuges as a tourist resource. The adoption of elements and abstract forms of small scale accompanied by a careful execution has been made in the conviction that they contribute to its integration in the historical environment where it is located. The building is organized around the wall that born from the shelters. The wall becomes the element from which the necessary connection between the entrance and underground galleries is established, providing both elements of due continuity as a base for establishing the unity of the project. The concrete wall, which with its thickness and strength protected man from its destruction, now appears as a generator element of the project. Its finish reflects the formwork used in its construction, as it happened in the construction of the concrete vault of the galleries. However, the continuity between shelters and pavilion, is entrusted to the material and the light as the other two elements that generators of the project. The pavilion had to appear as a solid element to establish the proper continuity with the solidity perceived inside the shelters, but at the same time it should be transparent and light, so that their presence in the historic city was minimal. This duplicity is reflected in the condition and treatment of materials. The solidity is entrusted to the texture of the concrete, the steel and the reflective condition of the engraved glass with an abstraction of the graphics used by Langle in his plans to reflect the shelters, while the lightness and transparency are granted by the most inherent qualities of the own glass. In the pavilion, the natural light is introduced through the glass walls and a skylight that crowns the deck. The light slides through the wall that born from the shelters until getting lost in the depths of the galleries, referring to the original mouths that were always open and absorbed the light outside. From the inside of the building a panoptic vision of the whole environment is achieved, contributing to its integration in the place.

Deserves special mention the location of the remains of the ancient Pechinas Doors, from Arab times, under the floor of the pavilion. In this way, the building appears as a big chest that houses inside two great treasures, the shelters and the remains of the Muslim gate, becoming the entrance, not only of shelters but a fundamental part of the history of the city: the Islamic Almeria.

Finally, two elements of pure and elemental geometry stand out on the exit that lodge the elevator and the stairs independently. When you leave the underground galleries you can see the light through the shelters engraved on the glass. The projected pieces become an allegory of the shelters through which the light of day, the light of life, is reached. In short, the whole performance is full of winks to the place in an attempt to link the performance to the physical and cultural context, within the maximum respect to the existing and the strictest rigor.



Project: Civil war Shelters of Almería

Location: Underground, between Manuel Pérez García Street and Pablo Cazard Street
Promoter: Town hall of Almería

Finalization: Year 2006

Architect: José Ángel Ferrer
Technical Architect: Manuel Alonso

Internal Collaborators: Javier De Simón, José Antonio Cuerva, Miguel G. Haro y Fernando Mateos
External Collaborators: JG Ingenieros, Secoal Ingenieros, Sondeal G y M
Contratist: Construcciones Tejera
Photography: Jesús Granada

Total Cost: 1.597.240,94 €
Constructed Area: 1.800 m2


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Magazine“Arquitectura Ibérica”, nº 24. Portugal. February 2008
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Magazine “Diseño Interior”, nº 182. Madrid. September 2006
“Los refugios de Almería, un espacio para la vida”. Almería. December 2006