Inaugurated in 2007, the new complex is located on the outskirts of the ancient town of Logroño, capital of the Autonomous Community of La Rioja in northern Spain and one of the traditional resting stages on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route. The centre has three functions: training, research, and new technology and IT transfer to the business sector.
The building is sited on a ridge running along the river Iregua, an affluent of the Ebro. The whole area has been earmarked for development, which will include enlargement of the existing public nurseries and a veterinary hospital for endangered local species. Adjacent residential areas and commensurate infrastructure including a shopping centre, water treatment plant and major traffic thoroughfare (Avenida Zaragoza) will make the district a high-density urban neighbourhood.
Ease of access is a key characteristic of the area. Public transport routes converge on Avenida Zaragoza and a riverside park along the Iregua will soon facilitate pedestrian access.
The steeply sloping terrain - Avenida Zaragoza to the west lies at 380 m above sea level while the building is at 371 m - is characterised by several retaining walls and a row of elm trees lining the steep access road, Camino de los Lirios.
The practice Foreign Office Architects has conceived a singular architectural structure that blends into its surroundings while at the same time asserting the high-tech function of the centre.
The two-storey building with extensive glazed façades stands on pillars so that the ground level can be used as a covered parking area. Its polygonal line footprint is oriented approximately north south to follow the landscape features. On the longitudinal axis, the two storeys slide gently apart, creating an accessible outside deck on the side of a long interior distribution corridor, and a protective overhang on the exposed opposite side. The free roof area on the first floor serves as a terrace. On the interior, the linear floor plan sets classrooms, laboratories, offices and ancillary spaces in strict sequence, with a lateral corridor running the full length of the building. This arrangement turns staircase landings and lobbies into convergence hubs. The open-plan layout and ample glazed façades allow the landscape and river views to become an integral part of the interior. Following the natural slope of the terrain, the building effectively embraces the vegetation and trees as an extensive of itself. A series of ramps link the two storeys to the parking level, creating further continuity between manmade structure and natural surrounds. The linear structure is softened in several sectors by a sequence of steel wirings stretching from ground to points on the building. These sustain climbing plants that one day will enhance the concept of a virtual volume as well as provide further solar glare protection for the glazed expanses.