Domus, Museum of Mankind
Arata Isozaki & Associates

April 22, 2002 /

La Coruña, Spain

Photo: arcspace

La Coruña, a seaport in the Galician region of north western Spain, is known for its fierce ocean wind and the rough waves it creates. Domus, Museum of Mankind, is situated overlooking Orzán Bay near the lighthouse of Hercules; a tower erected by the Romans.

To place a single building on the site, an almost vertical cliff which drops into the sea, called for a simple form that would surpass the scale of the residential backdrop and make a clear impression from far away in scale with the Lighthouse.

Photo: arcspace

The rear facade was designed in the image of a Japanese folding screen. The screen elements have an average height of 11 meters in response to the scale of the surrounding residential area. The granite panels, backed by concrete, are constructed directly on the rock.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The 94 meter long, 17 meters high curved barrier wall, covered with green slate panels, consists of a series of 2.6 meter precast-concrete units. Using only rock from the Galician region throughout the project Isozaki achieved a sense of lightness not normally associated with stone.

Photo: arcspace

The roof, supported by metal trusses resting perpendicularly on the two walls of totally different character, opens up into a sliding skylight for overhead lighting. The interior concrete wall surfaces are left exposed.

Photo: arcspace

From the Promenade along the shore visitors to the museum ascend a grand stairway, with scenic terraces inserted as rest places, to the entry level 10 meters above the Promenade.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Inside the open-plan exhibition space adapts to the topography by means of a series of ramps linking the three levels of museum space in a linear progression. The events hall is situated above the entrance from the Promenade taking advantage of the section generated by the difference in level. Administration and study areas are situated on the top floor, beneath the skylight which extends around the perimeter. The exhibition space, from floors to handrails, is faced in slate.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The Museum restaurant, below the exhibition area, has its own entrance. Here the dialogue with the topography of the cliff is taken to its limits with the rock giving the restaurant a cave like atmosphere.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The wall facing the sea is expanded with a glazed balcony "glass gallery"; a traditional feature of the northern coast of Spain.

Drawing courtesy Arata IsozakiSite Plandomus_museum_of_mankind_17.jpg
Drawing courtesy Arata IsozakiEntry Level Plandomus_museum_of_mankind_18.jpg
Drawing courtesy Arata IsozakiElevationdomus_museum_of_mankind_19.jpg
Drawing courtesy Arata IsozakiElevation

Facts about Domus, Museum of Mankind


Arata Isozaki
César Portela


Toshiaki Tange
Mashato Hori
Naoki Ogawa
Igor Peraza
Frederico Garrido
Amparo Casares
José Luís Gahona
Paulino Sánchez
José A. Suarez


Julio Martínez Calzón


Antonio Reboreda

Architectural technicians:

José A. Suarez
Pablo Reboredo


Concello da Coruña


Cubiertas y MZOV, S.A.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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