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City of Culture of Galicia

Peter Eisenman Architects

The competition launched by the Autonomous Spanish Region of Galicia in 1999 marked the beginning of the Galician Cultural Centre. Peter Eisenman was chosen from among many international contestants. The brief was for a complex that would embody and present Galicia’s cultural heritage - its book production, archives, arts and theatre - and feature a museum and new technologies centre.
With this huge construction project, the regional government has undertaken a vast promotion programme of Galicia’s past and present identity. The competition set clear political objectives: the new complex should showcase the close connection between culture and architecture and how ancient architectural forms may be passed on to the temples of today: museums and libraries. The area set aside - Mount Gaiás in front of Santiago de Compostela with spectacular views of the medieval town and its cathedral - is a fitting scenario for such lofty ambitions.
The complex now taking shape is a shrine to contemporary living, a modern architectural and conceptual acropolis. The multi-year programme is on an unabashedly grand scale. All programmes respond more or less explicitly to the City of Culture’s underlying objective of asserting the region’s contemporary relevance.
Peter Eisenman has created a central urban core from which the whole complex develops: a “street” plan or modern Cartesian grid to which the buildings conform. This is matched by an overall architectural design of compositional and structural nodes that intersect and interweave to form interior spaces and elevations. The complexity created by a series of super-positions is rendered even more visible by sudden fractures, pointed elements, pillars and columns.
Eisenman takes his cue from the local topography. Architecture and landscape mutually intertwine to form a series of rippling hill-like projections rising from the land redolent with historic and symbolic references. The place is a new destination on...

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