Gallery: Spanish Palace’s Contemporary New Wing Sweeps Below Its Green ...

The storied Palace at Aiete Park is a landmark in San Sebastian, Spain, whose historic and cultural value has been enhanced by a very modern expansion that stretches below the neo-classical residence. Now home to the Human Rights Institute, the remodel and addition are part of the great contemporary architecture movement of seamlessly fusing historic buildings with modern wings (a practice that we love). Like the Louvre's underground expansion with its iconic glass pyramid or the massive visitor center at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, the Palace of Aiete's new add-on is a beaut; the only difference is that it sports a huge grassy park instead of a hardscape.

By sweeping underground and opening to the daylight with a angular façade, Isuuru Architects made a workplace and visitor center that does not compete with the original palace’s sensibility. Built in the late 19th century for Spain’s royalty to escape to, the palace served as Dictator Francisco Franco’s summer retreat.  Now home to the Human Rights Institute, the expansion serves to correct not only the condition of the palace, but also the intention.

The subterranean expansion begins below the palace itself and offers office space and connectivity for the Institute’s operation on the first floor. The second floor of the restored palace serves as a public interpretation center, providing space for workshops and displays of the history and role of the facility.


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1 Comment

  1. Holcim Awards January 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Great intervention. Tucking the building into the landscape has so many advantages for environmental reasons as well as for respecting the historic building. Really fantastic!

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