on the outskirts of a medieval town in western spain, a giant, boulder-shaped volume emerges out of the undulating terrain. however, the object’s scale and rock-like appearance is dramatically countered by a translucent skin of ETFE panels — a gesture that not only reveals its inner workings, but also questions the permanence of the structure, despite its size. this conference center and auditorium is the work of selgascano, the spanish architecture studio that has created similarly surreal structures in london and france.

selgascano plasencia conference center auditorium
a giant, boulder-shaped volume emerges out of the undulating terrain
photo: iwan baan (also main image)

 

 

whereas the firm’s other work may have been contained within a courtyard or sheltered by vegetation, the sheer scale of the auditorium allows it to stand out. ‘the building will be visible in the distance from an entire western perspective, from north to south,’ explains josé selgas and lucía cano, the duo behind the design. ‘it will be seen when passing by at high speed in a car, which is why we have planned it as a snapshot or a luminous form, acting as a sign for passengers by day and by night.’

selgascano plasencia conference center auditorium
the lobby provides access to all areas of the building
photo: iwan baan

 

 

located at the boundary between the countryside and the walled market city of plasencia, the building rests lightly on the landscape, occupying a minimum of its semi-rural plot. the building is accessed from the neighboring street, elevated at a height more than 17 meters (56 feet) above the lowest part of the building. from here, an orange gangway — that presents sweeping views of the surrounding landscape — leads visitors through a grand doorway into the entrance lobby.

selgascano plasencia conference center auditorium
ramps, apertures, and stairs help dissolve boundaries between internal and external space
photo: iwan baan

 

 

rendered in the same color as the ramp, the lobby contains a series of circulation routes that help dissolve boundaries between internal and external space, while providing access to all areas of the building. the angular form of the structure is the direct result of the internal program where the main hall inhabits the lower part of the building. a secondary hall for 300 people can be divided into three rooms capable of accommodating 100 spectators each, while exhibition areas and a restaurant complete the program. see more images of the project on iwan baan’s website here.

selgascano plasencia conference center auditorium
the main hall inhabits the lower part of the building
photo: iwan baan

selgascano plasencia conference center auditorium
an orange gangway leads visitors through a grand doorway
photo: iwan baan

 

 

project info:

 

location: plasencia, spain
date: 2005-2017
owner: junta de extremadura
architects: selgascano — jose selgas, lucia cano
design team: lara resco, josé de villar, lorena del río, blas antón, carlos chacón, manuel cifuentes, beatriz quintana, jaehoon yook, jeongwoo choi, laura culiañez, bárbara bardín
area: 7,500 sqm
architectural assistant: manolo trenado
structural engineer, main structure: BOMA ingenieros
structural engineer, facade structure: fhecor ingenieros consultores
mechanical: JG ingenieros
acoustic engineer: arau acustica
textile architecture: lastra zorrilla
general contractor: placonsa-joca
photography: iwan baan