RRP's competition scheme for a 50,000 m² arts and congress complex in Sabadell was intended to give this growing city of 185,000 inhabitants (20 km inland from Barcelona) a new cultural hub. The essence of the scheme is its open, non-monumental character.
The Centre is situated close to the new Parc Catalunya in the Eix Macià district of Sabadell – the city’s economic and civic centre. The brief for the complex was to create a landmark public space, with a range of facilities including a flexible auditorium seating 1,000 (suitable for opera, theatre, ballet and dance) and a smaller auditorium holding 300 people. In addition, the complex houses a four-star, 200 room hotel and conference centre of 9,500 m², a music school for 650 students, a 5,400 m², retail area, a 1,000 m² exhibition space, a 5,000 m² car park housing c.400 cars and a large exhibition/trade fair/sports area of 6,600 m².
The client wanted a building that welcomes visitors to the city as well as serving local needs. RRP's project accommodates the varied functions it houses in clearly identifiable ‘pavilions’ beneath a dramatic, floating roof. These constituent elements are sited both on and in a large stepped plinth – conceived as a vast ‘stage’ overlooking the neighbouring park. The ‘stage’ is animated by vast video screens and installations announcing the cultural programmes and events offered by the centre itself as well as the city’s rich cultural network. The separation of functions also allows the building to be developed in phases, responding to possible changes in the brief. The use of an orthogonal, repetitive plan and structural system allows for the use of standardised components and simplifies the construction process.
The distinctive geometry of the roof has been developed inresponse to the way in which the building addresses the park. The roof also protects the ‘stage’ from wind, rain and the summer sun while allowing lower winter sun to reach deep within the scheme and to illuminate the façades during early daylight hours..