Ribadeo is in the northeast corner of Galicia, Spain. It has approximately nine thousand inhabitants and a large service industry. It consists of a protected historical old part of the town and a port and it has many possibilities due to its strategic position on the Cantabrian coast. Nevertheless the relation between the port an the old part of the town presents an obstacle which is difficult to overcome; there is more than twenty metres of height difference between the two parts, which gets closer to forty metres if we consider the town hall square.
The historical part of the town is articulated around a great square presided by the Town Hall and the Moreno Tower, a modernist building nowadays empty. Both construction face towards the sun, but in doing so they turn their backs to the Cantabrian Sea. They do not look to the sea; it seems as if they are ignoring it. It could be partly due to this, but mainly because it does not go anywhere, that the rear zone of both buildings is residential and not very busy, and the commercial zone spreads towards the south. This lack of dynamism has also led to the abandoning of certain buildings of interest i. e. the old cinema or the important urban country houses nowadays empty or even in ruins.
So the problem has been stated: how to connect both worlds; how to turn the difference in height which can be appreciated in the photographs. The local authority asked the question through a contest of ideas. There is neither a closed budget, nor a clearly definite programme of needs; not even a specific emplacement. Simply there is a problem that needs to be solved.
The “Atalaya” turns into the key point. The difference in height is important but the horizontal movement is practically null and void. We study three options: conventional stairs, escalators or lifts. Nobody walks up eight storeys nowadays; neither do they walk down them. The disposition of the ground complicates the support or installation of escalators. Nevertheless it looks vertical enough to install a lift. The ground at the base is practically fault. The top disembarkation presents some small complications in the viewpoint of the Watchtower (Atalaya), but later the slope is very gentle up to the Town Hall square and the distance is short. A great area of opportunity is created between the square and the view point, the area previously described as being of marginal interest. The Trinidade Street, and especially its ground floors, can acquire another interest due to the passing by of the populace. Three or four urban country houses of interest, the old cinema and the court are now seen in a more favourable light.
A prismatic volume with four extremities is orientated in all four directions. The lower access is situated towards the port; the upper one perpendicular to the rampart. One straight to the information bureau; the engine room ventilation is on the inaccessible side. The central body has two parts; elevator and stairway. This is for maintenance, or emergency, or for the sportsmen. It is perforated with, at least, one hole along the length of the stairs in all directions. For the elevator, and beginning from the top, the proposal would be the following: Complete vision from the tower, toward the bridge as we enter. Towards the other side while we wait. When we start to descend we look at the inside of the estuary, turning ninety degrees halfway trough the helical journey, to get finally the base. The material integrates with the hillside, as a recovered piece of the old wall. The texture of slate is black concrete, with a clear purpose of integration. On the one hand the colour, almost always in shade. On the other hand is the texture, habitual in this zone. Shiny covers of black polished concrete, reminiscent of the slate roofs.