Urbanistic development and intervention on the landscape


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Adaptation of the archaeological remains of the ancient Roman Theatre of Tarraco and its activation as a public space


FAD Awards finalist 2019  Urbanism and lanscaping
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The Jury’s appraisal: The jury values the author’s open gaze towards a space of considerable historical density and spatial complexity: a key public location in the city of Tarragona in which the top-level heritage elements coexist with others of great spatial and visual impact, all of this with important urban connectivity problems. All these elements were combined to provide a satisfactory and very sensitive and effective response in which all of them play a role and where the new additions are able, through a new visual narrative, to make sense of disjointed vestiges of different eras and varying importance.

The archaeological remains of the old Tarraco Theatre (1st C. BC to 2nd C. AD) were discovered in 1885 at the edge of where the Roman wall followed and made use of the original topography, thus resolving the 9-metre slope between the city and the port.

The aim of each successive phase of the intervention is to transform a large 6000m2 urban void into a new traversable public space. The first of these phases, however, recognises, activates and enables visiting the archaeological remains as a primary element of this building.

Since 1885 and throughout the 20th century, the then-recently discovered site (with the first section of the Roman cavea intact) has undergone significant changes: two industrial oil factories in 1920 and 1950 and the concrete structures of housing developments halted in 1977 now make up its new contemporary condition as a sediment and deposit of time and materials.

A structure of corrugated iron rods is complemented by a horizontal plane of granite sand, making up the guidelines and driving forces behind the geometry and scale of the remains of the original Roman cavea and ‘orchestra’, linking them to their prior semi-circular and concentric states.

Like a cloud of starlings, reversing static (the observer) and mobile (the choreography of birds in motion) elements, the tangential views of successive aligned parts place the shadow of the old theatre in time by relocating visitors and establishing their experience as new contemporary spectators.

They filter information and become the sole directors of a new scene, where a distracted and spontaneous gaze seeks a place to rest. A spectator that also generates new stories, becoming another actor in this location’s life.

The set is now no longer focused on a single point, doing away with the classic idea of a semi-panoramic framed view. The centre shifts and symmetry vanishes. The stage expands and limits are erased. Now different elements come into play, and like machinery the history and play become organised, offering infinite versions with the new actors and their gazes gradually becoming harmonised with the weight and passage of time.

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Localización Location: Tarragona. Spain. Autores Authors: Toni Gironès Saderra, doctor arquitecto | Estudi d’arquitectura Toni Gironès. Arquitecto técnico Quantity surveyor: Masala Consultors. Ingeniería Enginnering: Masala Consultors. Colaboradores Collaborators: Dani Rebugent, Henry Mezini, Albert Font, Miguel Saludas, Jordi Llort, Dani Messeguer, Miriam Fuster, Carlos Lope, Federica Barroco, Uxue Jauregi y Ariadna Balcells. Promotor Developer: Departament de Cultura de la Generalitat de Catalunya. Agència Catalana del Patrimoni Cultural / Direcció General del Patrimoni Cultural (Proyecto Confinanciado con fondos FEDER). Constructora General Contractor: Constecnia | Jefe de obra: Josep Lluís Garriga. Estructura de hierro: Laconcet | Ramon Cestero. Superficie o volumen construido Built area or volume: 2.200m2. Fotografía Photography: Fernando Alda y Toni Gironès.
Toni Gironès
Fernando Alda Calvo
Toni Gironès