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DENIA MOUNTAIN / DENIA, ALICANTE
DENIA MOUNTAIN
DENIA, ALICANTE

The town council proposed to locate in the quarry of the castle a great car park connected with the new ring road that would provide access to the town centre by way of the Civil War tunnels, together with a cultural facility and a theatre-auditorium or a conference centre. In order to finance and operate this, it was decided to incorporate profit-making activities of a social character for public use such as a cinema complex, additional cultural spaces, a shopping zone and a hotel, with a resort based on the German model of publicly owned tourist resorts.

The project for the quarry in Denia is fruit of a very intelligent strategic decision by a town committed to concentrating the key activities in the centre, in order to guarantee ensure that the centre continues being the most interesting and dynamic part of the territory, and in this way to attract the energy of urban, social and economic development there.

In what category does an artificial mountain belong?

The project for Denia emerges as the possibility of concentrating in a place of exceptional historical, social and cultural value previously expressed intuitions in relation to the possibility of converting the act of construction into a landscaping operation, in which the resulting structure follows the structural and formal logic of a mountain. In this way, this project posited the challenge of proposing a structure that responded to the scale of the great void that is the legacy of the material interventions in the place in the course of its history. 
Thus, the first step was to define a large-scale structure that rested on the floor of the quarry and on its front, in such a way that the foundation of the structure is supported on both the vertical and the horizontal plane. If the horizontal projection of the rhombohedron is hexagons, we decided that the surface of the mountain should be constructed on the basis of three different-sized hexagons in such a way that the one closest to ground would be the largest, so that the topography that emerged from it would permit the movement of people in larger spaces.

The programme proposed in the project was organized around the creation of three large voids that act as poles of attraction for the contents associated with the programme. The geometry of these programmatic crystals is defined through the overlapping, aggregation or linkage of various types of calcite crystals. These voids make it possible to preserve the quarry intact at several relevant key points in the project. The intention is to construct an urban agora by the exit of the existing tunnel, located between the new rhomboidal structure and the wall of the quarry, with various recreational or commercial activities deployed around it. The auditorium, located in the centre of the new mountain, will have access from the car park and from the exterior of the mountain, by way of a lobby beneath the orchestra pit. The auditorium itself is like the interior of an instrument, with a precise geometric definition that ensures excellent acoustics. At the east end of the auditorium an interior void will accommodate saltwater swimming pools at the base of the quarry, with natural overhead lighting thanks to a geometry that connects with the complexity and wealth of the spaces bequeathed by the Moorish culture that helped create the personality of this territory.
The surface of the mountain can also be used for music events, and is laid out with a botanical garden of Mediterranean plants.

During the development of the project we discovered Viollet-le-Duc’s assertion, in his writings on the Alps, that ‘God could not have invented nature without geometry.’ Viollet-le-Duc used the same geometry that we have used to reconstruct the quarry of Denia, as the basic structure of the pyramidal massif of the Alps.

The skin is the path.

The last act of the quarry will be to reconstruct itself. For this reason the surface of the new construction must be of stone and facilitate the regeneration of the natural systems, both organic and inorganic, that are found in the Mediterranean mountains. The project for the surface of the reconstructed mountain posited the question of whether to create an amorphous surface where the materiality would be precise, and on which mobility would be on roads dug out of the defined surface, in keeping with the model of the hermitages found on the tops of hills in various parts of the region. However, this approach did not seem valid, given that the opportunity of defining the geometry of this surface would serve to merge those places where human circulation is possible thanks to the gentle slope and others where access is more difficult. In order to rationalize the construction process, it was decided to work with the hexagon, supported on the underlying rhombohedric structure, as the basic unit on which to create a microtopography that would allow pedestrian circulation. This element would have a gradient of 30 degrees (similar to that of the original mountain) and would permit circulation on gradients varying from 8%, accessible to handicapped visitors, to the 30% of a stepped ramp. Like a natural system, the system to be developed had to permit a form of proliferation that was not modular, but more akin to the complex surfaces found in nature. The proposed solution is a piece in which all of the sides connect with one another, thereby creating interior micro routes whose gradients vary according to the position of the pieces. The pieces that permit a change of the scale have a special geometry. In this way the surface of the mountain emerges from the rhomboidal structure of its interior and invites a form of circulation similar to that of the Mediterranean mountains, in which each individual traces his or her own path.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGY9DpUcaBY

Credits:

Architect: Vicente Guallart
Architects collaborators: COTACERO Taller Arquitectura

Façade geometry: Max Sanjulián
Auditorium: Jordi Mansilla
Collaborators: Ivan Llach, Moon Puig, Nacho Alonso, Raquel Colacios, Barbara Oelbrant, Guillem Augé, Ana Verges , Carlo Mezzino, Li-An Tsien, Inés Rivaya
Images: Laura Cantarella
Crystallographic advisor: Albert Soler
Acustic advisor: Higini Arau
Structure: Robert Brufau
Models: Christine Bleicher, Susanne Schulte
Polyurethane Model: Luis Fraguada, Monika Wittig
Photography: Luis Fraguada, Monika Wittig

Client: Ayuntamiento de Denia
Year: 2002
Location: Denia, Alicante
Area: No definid
Program: Equipamiento Socio-Cultural
Team: GUALLART Arch. + Max Sanjulián + COTACERO
Status: Concurso 1er Premio

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