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Luis Machuca y Asociados s.l.p., visitor center

Everything in Context: Visitor Centre in Southern Spain

Amid coniferous forests, scrubland and deep gorges, the visitor centre by Luis Machuca & Asociados sits enthroned atop a mountain. It is located at the edge of the Desiladero de los Gaitanes, which is 50 km upcountry from Málaga. The park is home both to the archaeological remains of a village and to a wide diversity of flora and fauna. These features make it particularly interesting for geologists, biologists and anthropologists alike, to say nothing of tourists.

The crowd of visitors will now be able to enjoy an exhibition in an architecturally impressive setting. The structure consists of wooden frames arranged parallel to each other; these take on the shape of a house with a gabled roof. But where the gable would be, the frames are distorted and folded inwards. One of the façades within the frame is completely glazed, allowing a view over the nature park, while the entryway façade is clad with wood panels. This wall is stepped towards the interior and leads visitors into the building.

Inside, two white-plastered, set-in volumes divide the space. They house the toilet facilities as well as the kitchen and counter of the café. The exhibition space flows around them; it features a separate area for film presentations.

As far as energy goes, the centre is entirely self-sufficient. The storage mass of the ground is used to cool incoming air in the summertime and to heat it in the winter months before it enters the building. A photovoltaic system generates electricity for the complex. Moreover, the structure has been built with the smallest possible footprint. Were it to be disassembled, it would leave no change to the surrounding landscape; all the materials could be recycled. Then everything would be as it had been before.

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