The new Bank of Spain branches take on the character of fortresses, or, so to speak, of peculiar safes facilitating the movement of that singular type of fluid called money.
Guided by a strict program describing the operations of the branch with extreme precision, the project was to resolve itineraries of both people and vehicles and avoid any crossings or interferences that might stand in contradiction to the precautions required in a vault.
Being the heart of the bank, the strongboxes are assigned an entire floor and given special attention at the construction stage, though for obvious security reasons their exact placement within the building is not reflected in the plans.
From the very start the idea was to fit the program into a single closed, perfect solid. Adegree of diversity is achieved inside through a system of voids providing for connection between floors and spaces, but the exterior volume remains unaffected.
Neatly fitted into this regular, almost square figure composed of 2.4 x 2.4-meter modules are surfaces and shapes which, through concatenation, address the diverse requirements of the program. The near square gets cut up by way of sequences and axes giving rise to a system of autonomous figures, without ever breaking the perimeter.
The closed, plain volume accomodating the program within extends beyond the protective walls of the premises by way of a bold, confident portico, permitting the building to participate actively in the urban scene. The bank also dealswith the ambiguity of the urban surroundings by presenting two different facades: on one side, the monumental portico resolving the long-range view from the square; and on the other, a smaller- scale door, crowned by a coat-of-arms, which by looking onto Andalusia Avenue resolves the building’s encounter with the city from its most immediate access.
The bulk of the bank consists of continuous horizontal bands of rubblework, combining portico, facades and walls. One discerns a system of landscaped platforms accentuating the fortresslike character of the building. The red stone from Alicante plays a primordial role, its thick texture evident in the vigorously drawn rows, thanks to oblique cuts in the joints.
The fortress character of the building is also reflected in the typology of its openings, which are modulated according to the horizontal rows of the stonework and are freely placed, addressing, fundamentally, the needs of the interior spaces. The result is variety, bordering on the picturesque on the portico facade and more regular on the Hermanos Pinzón Street facade, where one sees the continuous windows of the archives and the security gallery.
The south and east elevations have long, two-story windows to illuminate the large banking operation areas. Also noteworthy are the railings, for the stainless steel engages in dialogue with the rough texture of the stonework, and the diversity of sizes makes the overall insistence on one common geometry bearable.
The regularity of the scheme is reflected in the interior, and the fact that its pieces are based on the simple numerical proportions of modules makes the spaces comfortable to the eye.
The openness of many of the spaces gives the lighting a vital role in the overall image, as well as environmental conditioning, of the premises. Their suspension from the ceiling allows for two-way illumination - direct and reflected - and for a generally pleasant and balanced atmosphere...[+]
Banco de España.
Emilio Tuñón, Andrea Casiraghi, Nieves La Roche, Juan José Echevarría y Alvaro Soto; Francisco González Peiró (aparejador technical architect).
Dida Biggi e Hisao Suzuki.