The San Clemente square is located within the immediate surroundings of the main Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, a World Heritage site. Before the works, the San Clemente square formed a chaotic street crossing dominated by road traffic.
Perhaps an anecdote summarizing the development of the works could be summarized as follows:
After the head of the Restoration office had explained the project to the authorities in a meeting at the city council, the major asks in surprise:
- But… Why do we need to change the power transformer? (He sensed that such a task would entail great complexity).
So the local architect replies:
- Mr. Major, we are not changing a power transformer, we are changing the city.
The power transformer was indeed placed beneath a ramp built by the middle of last century. The ramp was halving in two the public space.
The replacement of the contention wall of the ramp becomes a key element in execution work both in the expansion of the square and in the reduction of the slope’s inclination. The new location of the ramp allows for visibility mostly from the upper part towards the lower part. A new set of connecting stairs has been placed, which is more comfortable and in agreement with the surrounding area than the prior one. The reduction of the slope inclination is also achieved.
The complexity of the boundaries leads us into choosing a relatively neutral material for the pavement: brown granite bordering black cobblestone. The most immediate
source of inspiration is the streets of the historical city center. Our intervention advocates for a continuity where limits are diluted. The public space is treated as a continuum, all in all, diluted limits: in the city. Traditional lights are introduced in part of the square facilitating a dialogue with modernity. Four large supports with low luminaries arrange the center of the square. Accompanied by bright bollards, they mark the contour lines for the terrace area. Small wall lights provide grazing light at the ramp, without touching the edge, again aiming at reducing the presence of the wall. Traditional lights maintain a dialogue with the new lights, a well-known idea in restoration works: coexistence and harmony between new and old materials, or light, as such is the case. Citizens are using the square. Children are playing peacefully and happily. Cars are rarely seen in the area. The outcome of the project has been positive even in adjacent streets, which have been released of the traffic burden. Pedestrian transit along the stairs and ramp has improved. There is a chance to achieve the initial forecast of the local architect: if only we have managed to change the city.
Authors: abalo alonso arquitectos. Elizabeth Abalo, Gonzalo Alonso Collaborates: Carlos Bóveda, Francisco González Varela, Berta Peleteiro, Kiko Mejuto, Jesús Garabal. Salgado e Liñares arquitectos enxeñeiros. Miguel Raposo, ingeniero. Photos: Santos-Díez / Bisimages
View from the parking cover
View from the post office
View from the square
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