Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Lugo, Spain
Project Year
© Roland Halbe


Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos as Architects

Pedagogical Landscape The urban fabric and natural space often transcend the invisible boundaries separating them, generating fields of influence, areas of interference between architecture and the landscape. This fact, which in large cities is perceived with ever-greater difficulty as a consequence of the territorial scale on which it happens, is quite evident in some smaller populations, in which the agrarian terrain, the rural environment, and the urban center form structures of imprecise character. This is the case in Lugo and the site assigned for the construction of the Interactive Museum of History. The site is located outside the Roman quarter, where the green and hilly terrain of the surrounding fields meets residential zones and old industrial facilities that have been gradually replaced with social, sports, and cultural facilities. Perhaps for that reason, the need to build a museum to present the history of the city through audiovisual means became, for us, an opportunity to explore the links shared by architecture and the landscape. Although the analogy to landscape has become commonplace in contemporary theory and practice, and thus it may perhaps seem forced to assimilate architecture into landscape, this is one of the instances in which we would like to think that the relationship between the two is more than a pretense. Our proposal thus emerged, in essence, like a museum-park or a park-museum, linked to the series of green areas in the city. Concealing the new exhibition spaces below ground, the structure in turn rises in a constellation of cylindrical lanterns scattered across a continuous field. As always happens when trying to formalize an architectural idea -often emerging from an intuition- it is precisely the interpretation of the place that ultimately lends meaning to the decisions leading to the specific answer. The marked unevenness between the east and west extremes of the plot suggested using the highest one as the level of access. This would allow the museum to unfurl its exhibition spaces underground, organized essentially on a single floor that is illuminated by natural light emitted through large circular shafts. A large cylindrical volume, sunken deeply into the terrain, forms the main hall, conceived as a scenic box. From the central courtyard emerge -as abandoned silos- the most unique exhibition halls; these have a greater floor-toceiling height and transmit the image of the new building to the exterior. The museum space itself is articulated in a sequence of interior and exterior circular voids, offering many possible itineraries in which the landscape and history seem to express the intimate relationship linking them.

The building’s sensibility toward environmental matters is a consequence of the conception of the project itself. The impact that a large volume would have produced on the ground-level surface is avoided by concealing the building beneath an undulating green layer. The spaces for visitors and museum operations occupy a floor partially buried under the same green roof, which is sympathetic to their thermal inertia, reducing their energy consumption. Above ground, the exhibition towers that emerge from the garden are externally wrapped by lightweight and artificially lit cor-ten steel meshes, which are transformed into a visual installation within the landscape of the new park. On this level, the Museum of History involves the experience of a promenade through a vegetal and metallic landscape. In the ambiguous strip of land formerly occupied by country and industry, visitors now encounter a park whose brightness at night seems to emerge from within the earth, perhaps evoking the images of fields and caves, historic walls and industrial silos, metaphors of a landscape and a culture that the citizens of Lugo have deeply engraved in their memory.

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