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Project: Banyoles Old Town
Location: Banyoles, Girona – Spain
Firm: Josep Miàs – MiAS ARCHITECTS
Year: 2011
Website: http://www.miasarquitectes.com/

Project Description: Overtime the historic fabric of Banyoles’ old town had deteriorated into a winding mess of streets overrun with parked cars, narrow sidewalks, aging utilities and a crumbling sewer system. This project transformed the urban landscape by pedestrianizing the quarter, burying utilities below ground and reengaging historic drainage system.

Working with the flow of water, the project uses drainage canals to rediscover the medieval settlement built into the limestone. Water once again becomes a protagonist in the life of the city. In this project we seek to exhaust the possibilities of water and stone. The scope of intervention is limited to the new pedestrian area and conforms to the town of medieval layout and architecture.

In addition to its architecture, a noteworthy feature of Banyoles is its succession of open spaces, small squares, in the otherwise compact medieval town. Due to the presence of these spaces, the layout of the old town undergoes a sequence of compressions and decompressions. These spaces, bounded by façades, pavement, arcades and singular elements, may be seen as open-pit excavations in the travertine.

The first intervention is to strip away the existing pavement to expose the historical substrate of the town, uncovering the remains of buildings, tombs, objects and old canals. The recs, the old water canals, are reincorporated into the streets, uncovered discontinuously in order to avoid disrupting the normal functioning of the town, while establishing a coherent discourse throughout the area.

The pavement is treated as if the stone itself were a liquid; vibrant like a cascade on the slopes and still on the flats. There remain, as if in a museum of time, traces of drift: trunk-benches, undulating silhouettes, random fragments of ruins…

The pavement is now sculpted, even eroded, by the groundwater, in the form of canals and troughs along which the water runs.

 

Project Credits

Project team: Silvia Brandi, Adriana Porta, Mario Blanco, Josep Puigdemont, Fausto Raposo, Mafalda Batista, Judith Segura, Sophie Lambert, Sven Holzgreve, Thomas Westerholm, Oliver Bals, Marta Cases, Julie Nicaise, Lluís A. Casanovas, Anna Mallén, Bárbara Fachada, Marco Miglioli

Photographer: Adrià Goula

Awards:         

2007, PREMIS D’ARQUITECTURA COMARQUES DE GIRONA Winner
2008, EUROPEAN PRIZE FOR URBAN PUBLIC SPACE Finalist
2008, 5th ROSA BARBA EUROPEAN LANDSCAPE PRIZE Finalist
2008, PREMIO ESPACIO PÚBLICO EUROPEO CCCB Finalist
2009, PREMI CATALUNYA CONSTRUCCIÓ Winner
2010, PREMIS FAD Finalist