City of Culture of Galicia
Eisenman Architects

January 23, 2006 /

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Photo courtesy Paisajes Españoles, s.a. Aerial view from southeast

Located on Monte Gaiás, a small hill overlooking Santiago de Compostela, the City of Culture is a new cultural center for the Province of Galicia in northwestern Spain.

The design evolves from the superposition of three sets of information. First, the street plan of the medieval center of Santiago is overlaid on a topographic map of the hillside site (which overlooks the city). Second, a modern Cartesian grid is laid over these medieval routes.

Third, through computer modeling software, the topography of the hillside is allowed to distort the two flat geometries, thus generating a topological surface that repositions old and new in a simultaneous matrix never before seen.

Image courtesy Eisenman Architects
Volumetric analysis

The original center of Santiago conforms to a figure/ground urbanism in which buildings are figural, or solid, and the streets are residual, or void spaces. Through this mapping operation, our project emerges as a curving surface that is neither figure nor ground but both a figured ground and a figured figure that supercede the figure-ground urbanism of the old city. Santiago's medieval past appears not as a form of representational nostalgia but as a new yet somehow familiar presence found in a new form.

Photo courtesy Eisenman Architects
Competition model, 1999

The six buildings of the project are conceived as three pairs: the Museum of Galician History and the New Technologies center; the Music Theater and Central Services building; and the Galician Library and Periodicals Archive.

Visitor's experiences of any given building will be affected by its relationship to its immediate partner. The caminos, or pedestrian streets, that wind between the buildings also open onto a public square, which is bordered by the six buildings and features landscape and water elements.

Photo courtesy Paisajes Españoles, s.a. 
Aerial view of Biblically (left), Central Services building (center), and History Museum (right)

Photo courtesy Paisajes Españoles, s.a.
Aerial view of Hemeroteca (left) and Biblioteca (right)

Surrounding the built area of the CCG is the Arboretum of Galicia: an area of gardens and native woodland, conceived as both a recreational and an educational facility.

Currently four buildings are under construction. The remaining two buildings are scheduled to begin later this year. The Hemeroteca, or periodicals library, is scheduled to be completed in the spring.

Photo courtesy Eisenman Architects
South facade of Hemeroteca looking west

Photo courtesy Eisenman Architects
Roof of Hemeroteca looking east

Photo courtesy Eisenman Architects
South facade of Hemeroteca looking west

Photo courtesy Eisenman Architects
Interior of Hemeroteca

Photo courtesy Eisenman Architects
Interior of Hemeroteca


Facts about City of Culture of Galicia


1,000,000 ft2

Museum of Galician History:

172,000 ft2

New Technologies Center:

135,000 ft2

Music Theater:

220,000 ft2

Galician Library: 

122,000 ft2

Periodicals Archive:

86,000 ft2

Central Services building:

50,000 ft2

Total area:

173 ac

Project start:


Expected Completion:

Buildings will open in phases beginning in 2006


Fundación Cidade da Cultura de Galicia

Last updated: December 19, 2013

See also

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