Francisco MANGADO

Thermoludic Center in Amélie-Les Bains+


Amélie-Les Bains-France

The site of the new spa center at Ville de Amélie-Les Bains has extraordinary landscape and historical attributes. Its elevated position in the city, its topography, nestled in the mountain landscape, and the fact that it was previously a thermal bath center, and that this past is ingrained in the memory of the place, were all givens for any new project to build on and highlight.

Especially impressive are the tectonic and material attributes of the complex, mainly in the retaining walls of stone that are part of the landscape, and in the thick solid existing masonry walls. Its value lies not so much in its style or form, but in the actual construction, in those well-built walls that have survived through time.

The starting point of our intervention, hence, is to try to respect the old thermal hospital construction in everything that is of a massive and permanent nature, while reshaping the roofs, reinforcing the areas resulting from that, and creating a new volume. Glazed, lighter in build, this volume rests on and flows through the existing construction, which acts as a plinth, and accommodates new uses as well as the scheme of circulation spaces necessary for the new thermal center to function.

Light over heavy: light volume and glass surfaces, expressions of the contemporary, superposed on dense solid masses inherited from the past.

This linear glazed volume, which somehow stretches through the entire preexisting construction, makes it possible to define limits, closing up the new complex inward and forming a new facade with the old structure that acts as a plinth or base, and a light volume resting on it. In this way, the space between the hotel and the baths is more effectively configured as a garden.

We thus propose an intervention that, while deferring to the past, will not go unnoticed in conceptual and formal terms, and which asserts its contemporariness through an integrated complex where an interpretation of time, of different periods of time, is easily recognizable through the expression of forms and materials.

The other concept implicit in our proposal has to do with ensuring a certain degree of privacy. By taking advantage of the large existing raised courtyard, and creating a new access that connects this space to the raised area where the outdoor water pools are located, the project forms a cloistral arrangement that gives privacy while enhancing the relationship between interior and exterior.

Chemin de Cal Pastou, 66110 Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda, Francia

Swimming pools for the University of Vigo
The project is drawn up as large outlook onto the campus, and the whole organization and arrangement of uses are indebted to this idea. The users will be able to enjoy views of the campus and its buildings from this raised platform containing the swimming pools.The access to the pool through the most elevated area allows to accommodate the main functions in a single floor. The complementary ones – dressing rooms and sanitation services - are organized following an L-shape. All of them within an itinerary conceived in material terms as a slightly opaque one, defined by the smaller scale of the uses therein contained. Embraced by these are the poolside spaces, glazed and open onto the campus, “floating” beyond the structural and functional limits imposed. The ends of this platform, whose interior contains areas for resting after exercise, are cantilevering volumes (spanning approximately eight meters) that seem to escape the base anchored to the ground so that the users may feel as if they were flying.This light platform of water that hovers over its surroundings contrasts with its strong, solid granite base. This base endows the swimming pools with facades, aside from accommodating the systems and other necessary services. From the exterior, it is perceived not only as the facade of the building, but as a pre-existing base of topographical nature that is anchored to the subsoil, so defining the raised outlook character of the public level. The other central argument of the project is the roof. The large outlook has a clear, powerful and attractive roof, of large spans and an internal geometry in accordance with the existing deep beams. A roof that allows to generate rich spaces and light nuances – the roof has a skylight – that enhance the overall image of the complex. During the project design a special attention was paid to the water space that was to be generated, it had to be efficient but also appealing and sensual. In this sense the roof plays an essential role.