In the Mediterranean city of Alicante, Spain an old railway station has been transformed into a vibrant daylit office for Casa Mediterraneo. Architect Manuel Ocana del Valle helped the diplomatic institution equip the existing station with the spaces required to effectively sustain the organization’s program. Casa Mediterraneo is committed to fostering a common identity for the Mediterranean Villages, and this new headquarters offers a beautiful example of how the organization can reinvigorate old perceptions.
Manuel Ocana del Valle was given an interesting brief that pushed the design of Casa Mediterraneo’s headquarters beyond a typical tenant improvement for an existing building. The brief emphasized the importance of preserving the building appropriately for the program, but in a way that honored the heritage of the building. Therefore, Ocana del Valle decided against any large modernist intervention, and he went for a straightforward and sophisticated renovation that emphasized the bold lines of the old train station.
The design team separated the spaces within the 3100 square meter railway station’s shell into individual smaller pavilions surrounding a larger 1500 square meter hall. The large hall was once dark and dank, however it has been changed into a multicolored, ever-changing stage for events, parties, and exhibits. As the architect describes it, “a Klein-blue, translucent roof filters the incoming sunlight which, after reverberating through a vibrant, circular-patterned aluminum lattice, dyes and excites the old walls and floor, flooding the space and turning it into a sea of blue shadows”.
The improvements made to the Benalua railway station lie at the intersection of modern design and cultural preservation. The pavilions within the railway station are daylit, naturally ventilated, and surrounded by vegetation, which grows in ceramic pots. In an era that is pushing towards all new construction interventions being designed in a sustainable fashion, the new Casa Mediterraneo is a fresh perspective on reusing abandon buildings for new purposes.