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The Mandeo Ethnographic and Cultural Centre

Barge Bouza Arquitectura

The Mandeo Ethnographic and Cultural Centre
By Caterina Testa -

The Mandeo River runs through Galicia in northwest Spain through countryside dotted with ancient hamlets, small chapels and farms. The river valley’s natural beauty, its ancient culture and architectural heritage make it a recreational and educational location of excellence.
Itineraries and walkways turn the Mandeo area into an open-air museum whose points of interest are connected by the river itself. Now the time-honoured culture and know-how of a region made up of scattered human testimonies have been brought under one roof, the Mandeo Ethnographic and Cultural Centre in Curtis, one of the little towns traversed by the river.
Part inhabited and part uncontaminated forest, the location of the Centre speaks of the connection and tension between local culture and a natural environment where human intervention has always existed alongside virgin countryside. The Centre’s architecture is also mindful of its sparely populated rural context. Despite a nod to contemporary style, its size, scale and materials ensure it slips smoothly and harmoniously into the environment, echoing the medley of volumes making up a typical village cluster.
The Centre is housed in four functionally separate volumes, each rotated at an angle to the other. The buildings are reminiscent of the region’s ancient palleiros, traditional storage or drying sheds, a hallmark of the Galician countryside. Modular in construction, they differ in the pitch of their concrete roofs and the orientation of their entrances, these latter signposted by glazed elevations shielded by wooden-slat sun shading. Each volume is sized in relation to its neighbour. The apparently haphazard angle of orientation replicates the casual layout of a rural village.
The grounds of the cultural centre are not ring fenced. This feature, together with the deliberately natural untendered look of the grounds, allows the programme to blend unobtrusively with the rough shrub bordering the...

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