You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

print article Print article
Murado & Elvira Architects, Baiona, Imagen Subliminal

Origami Within Old Walls: Municipal Library in Baiona

Baiona lies along the way to Santiago di Compostela. At nearly the highest point in town, behind the former abbey church of Santa Maria, stands the two-storey Sancti Spiritus hospital from the 17th century. Although the one-time hospital has been added to the list of the Bien de Interés Cultural of cultural objects that are to be protected, it has undergone many changes over the years. In 1970, the original floor plan was significantly changed in rebuilding work. The garden and inner courtyard had lost a good deal of their significance. The competition announced in 2010 to transform the interior space, which measured around 1,000 m², into a municipal library, was taken by the architect team surrounding Juan Elvira and Clara Murado. The grand opening took place in March 2018.

Transitions and Contrasts

Murado y Elvira have left the exterior of the house untouched apart from renovation work to the façade. A homogeneous sequence of spaces and fittings of maplewood have been set into the old stone shell. A granite wall newly erected in front of the existing exterior wall now stands on the one side of the entrance area; maple space dividers stand opposite. The granite flooring echoes the materiality of the city’s outdoor space, while the maple ceiling tells of fresh wind in the building. Old and new, inside and outside meet in a fascinating dialogue here.

Linear, artificial lighting and natural light coming through the openings in the stone wall accentuate the slightly sloping path that leads to the garden. At the end of the broad corridor, three steps in an embrasure nearly one metre wide guide visitors to the children’s library. This special access, as well as a bookcase disguised as a door and a puppet theatre, give the room a certain playful magic. In addition to the main staircase, two stone stairways lead from the inner courtyard into the principal reading room on the upper floor. This makes the courtyard the heart of the library.

Depth and Light

The reading room and its associated spaces are arranged concentrically around the inner courtyard. A series of functional rooms and the librarian’s office form a ring-like second layer around the reading room, which can thus remain open and spacious. The twofold shell of maplewood folds like origami in the ceiling area. Floors, shelves and reading niches lie behind openings cut into the double wall. They are part of the homogeneous structure. Clusters of round lamps provide artificial lighting. Funnel-shaped skylights and windows with sloping soffits penetrate the maple shell in order to capture daylight. The depth of the openings makes the design concept visible: a homogeneous structure has been set into the old building, rather like a large piece of furniture.

Kurze Werbepause

Further information:

Constrction site management:
Clara Murado, Juan Elvira (Murado & Elvira Architects), Óscar López Alba (OLA Arquitectos), Manuel Cuquejo
 Eugenia Concha, Marta Colón de Carvajal, Cristina Gutiérrez Chevalier, Francesco Martone
Obradoiro Enxeñeiros
Planning of structural framework:
Ezequiel Fernández Grinda
Contracting business:
Orega Coviastec

Current magazine
DETAIL 1+2/2020
DETAIL 1+2/2020

Windows and Facades

See magazine
Product teaser


Detail Newsletter

We will keep you informed about international projects, news on architectural and design topics, research and current events in our newsletter.