Santa Cruz de la Palma

Naval museum and housing project at Plaza de San Fernando. 2020

Our project for the revitalization of the Paza de San Fernando and the Narranco de las Nieves sought to balance the collective and the individual urban experience, and the quotidian and the exceptional. It represents a conversation between classical order and contemporary conditions; the need for significant change at Plaza de San Fernando and the augmentation of the built heritage of La Palma.

A simple urban plan provides defined urban space and decorum for the Holy Week and Bajada celebrations, and a robust but elegant new seafront promenade. The museum and housing we propose for the east and north of the square create a stage of festivity in the theatre-like topography.

View from the museum entrance through the courtyard, loggia, and out to sea
Ground Floor of the museum

The museum provides restrained and well-proportioned rooms for exhibition and public gathering, and intimate rooms for visiting researchers to study quietly while the citizens of the town use other parts of the building to meet for coffee; the exceptional coexists happily with the quotidian.

The symmetry of the principle fa├žade enables this relatively modest civic building to anchor the whole urban design. Inspired by Stockholm Town Hall, on entering through the central passageway the horizon over the sea can be seen through the sheltered courtyard and the open loggia beyond.

Good, thick walls of load-bearing masonry are finished in render and basalt stone in the manner typical of La Palma. The entrance bays project slightly, and feature a stone flagpole base and the inner courtyard features an arched Doric order with a giant Ionic above, giving plenty of light to the exhibition spaces within. Further local details are integrated into the proposed housing to the north of the site, with multi-storied wooden balconies.

This dialogue between the traditional and the classical is not one of nostalgia, but a foundational armature for a sustainable and robust architecture of the future.

View across the square with a detail of the museum facade
Isometric cutaway of museum