Project: “Luis Iglesias” Natural History Museum
Architects: César Portela.
Location: Finca Simeón.
The old collection of the University of Santiago’s Natural History Museum, initiated in 1840, is housed in a new building, designed by César Portela and located at one end of Vista Alegre Park, bordering the Sarela River.
The low-lying, longitudinal building’s exhibition spaces are arranged according to the museum’s main sections, devoted to zoology, botany, geology and the old diorama collection, restored for the new facility.
The museum’s volume is conceived as a series of cubes that, as a whole, are perceived as a moving artefact, drawing closer to or moving away from each other.
The building’s entire exterior skin is made of wood, which favours its integration into the park’s wooded landscape, as well as giving the building a feeling of lightness and transience. The glass surfaces modulate the entry of light by means of horizontal wooden slats, which, apart from controlling the daylight, blur the large openings in the continuity of the material covering the façades. The museum’s sensation of lightness is enhanced by the solution of the building’s contact with the terrain, being slightly separated from it as if floating above the park’s lawn.
The interior space, featuring neutral tones and visually light materials, was designed to house the museum’s old collections -to which the new ones will be added- with sufficient flexibility so as not to condition the future development of its content.