SANTANDER, Spain—Straight out of The Jetson’s, Renzo Piano‘s hyper modern Centro Botín art center, which opened this summer, not only features renowned contemporary art inside, but also boasts a daring facade made up of thousands of pearlescent ceramic discs.
”This building is flirting with the water” -Renzo
The center, articulated in two separate volumes, seamlessly melds into its environment with stilts suspending the cloud-like curved volumes, whose elevation ensure the passage of light and views of the bay. Renzo described his light and lightness concept, which was born from his partnership with Emilio Botín.
“If you put the building in the ground, then you close the view of the bay. So, we immediately decided that the building should fly. You only understand that when you come to a place, when you walk around, when you talk to people. I listened. For the first six months, it was raining every time we came – but you know, rain here – I love it. It’s almost metaphysical.”
The ceramic discs, which cover the entire exterior of the center are glazed with a mother-of-pearl luster, which playfully dances light even during the cloudiest of days. The Guardian likens the discs “to like a pair of ships encrusted with exotic barnacles.”
Journalist Pamela Cahill, who visited the center on opening day and toured the facility with Renzo himself, sheds light on the discs.
When speaking about the mother-of-pearl tiles Renzo says they used ceramics firstly because they are a part of Spain’s history and secondly because they wanted to play with light. You can see just how elegant they are on a grey day – and they take on a different personality in the sunshine which you’ve seen in previous posts.
Cahill added her visit like being kid in a chocolate factory with a golden ticket.
Renzo Piano managed to eclipse his own design which was quite an achievement. His outlook and his anecdotes not to mention his time and his nature were unforgettable. And when I chose to take the architecture tour, I never expected that Renzo himself would be taking us round. He did so with good humour and gusto – exploring inside and out – up and down.
One volume houses a 2,500 square meter two-story gallery. The other includes cultural, educational areas and even a rooftop terrace from which to experience the bay, ArchDaily writes. The two are separated by staircases.
Piano has designed a circulation spine that joins both elevated volumes and then stretches over the level of the garden all the way to the shoreline, ending in a pier over the sea. An open-air amphitheater flanks one of the volumes, on whose facade a mobile projection screen will be installed.
Images courtesy Centro Botín, unless otherwise noted. Featured image by Pamela Cahill.
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