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SocioCultural and Administrative Center

Reinstating Nature

Cano Lasso Architects

The south of the island of Ibiza has suffered the all-pervasive influence of mass tourism. Small villages have been turned into a jumbled mass of high-rise blocks, holiday homes with adjoining swimming pool, bars, restaurants and supermarkets, all the new plots growing out from the original layout. Urban development geared to the tourist market maximizes returns on investment to the detriment of urban planning or any strategy about how much and how big. Massive blocks, the newbuild is totally at odds with the informal urban fabric of the island’s old villages. In the areas of the island that have undergone the most intense development, agricultural plots or public spaces have become isolated pockets with no environmental or urban role.

North-west of Ibiza’s capital Ivissa lies Nuestra Señora de Jesús, formerly a little settlement that originally grew up around a small Franciscan church built in the 15th Century, which has suffered the same fate of uncontrolled sprawl. The buildings that have gone up over the last decade have nothing in common with the small, somewhat straggly scale of the original village. The sociocultural and administrative center designed by Cano Lasso Architects is a move to repair the disrupted social fabric with a large, fully accessible public area.
The Spanish firm’s program aims where possible to restore the area’s link with the natural world and achieve a new balance between the two. The structure, a lightweight pavilion, is designed as a dynamic space set amidst pathways that meander their way through the natural areas scattered around the complex. The hallmark of the project is restraint, both of the built structures and distribution circuits, which avoid all rigid axial geometries in favor of sinuous paths. The designers have shunned any geometrical design that even hints at imposing an urban “order” since it would have suffocated any link with nature. The...

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