In Santander 23 June was opening day for the Botín Centre, now the most important exhibition space of the Cantabrian capital. It completes an iconic cultural route along Spain’s northern coast that stretches from the City of Culture in Santiago de Compostela to the Niemeyer Center in Áviles to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The inauguration ceremony was attended by the King and Queen of Spain, the president of Cantabria, prominent members of the Botín family including Ana, president of the Santander Group, and Javier, president of the Botín Foundation, and of course the architect Renzo Piano and his local partner, Luis Vidal.
The fruit of an initiative of Emilio Botín, the Botín Centre is a new hub for art, culture, and education. But it is also the centerpiece of an ambitious urban operation that has expanded the Pereda Gardens all the way to the sea, thanks to the burying underground of the road that used to separate the park from the waterfront. Clad with 280,000 ceramic scales, the building on the one hand rises out of the grounds of the old dock, and on the other hand projects over the water: an implantation that enables citizens to enjoy a previously hidden coastal landscape.
From an artistic point of view the Botín Centre is completed with an ensemble of pieces designed by the sculptor Cristina Iglesias, which are spread around the building to accompany a luminous installation by Carsten Höller, subject of one of the institution’s inaugural exhibitions, which in turn is the artist’s first monographic show in Spain.