Llinars del Vallès is located in the Baix Montseny county of the Barcelona province. The town has less than 10,000 inhabitants and is currently undergoing a public development project that aims to invest in facilities such as an Auditorium/Theater, as well as a yet unbuilt Residential Complex and an adjacent Cultural Services Building.
Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira has been in charge of the design process, in collaboration with local studio Aresta Arquitectura, finishing in 2015 the first piece of this urban trilogy.
The redbrick mass fragments like a cubist sculpture into two main volumes, the taller of which articulates the stage and its 300 seats throughout three different levels, with a scenic booth above and a reservoir underneath, since it excavates the topography bellow the water table.
The lower volume is mostly occupied on the ground level by dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and storage areas, while the first floor is filled by a multipurpose hall, technical rooms and voids related to the double-heighted nature of certain functions, allowing for example crossed viewpoints of the large rehearsal space.
This not only brings natural light into these rooms but does so dramatically but cutting the monolithic walls horizontally, emphasizing the longitudinal character of the building and its telluric connection to the surrounding landscape.
Courtyards filter the openings like intimacy layers, enabling diverse points of access to the building in accordance to its users: artists, workshop participants, staff and theater goers.
A major court, happily named Agora like the Greek “open place of assembly”, permeates the core of the project and opens it partially towards the northwestern part of the plot. It allows trucks to reach the storage/technical areas and works as a sort of hall for outside events, such as fairs or the circus. It can also be subdivided into smaller portions in order to rent out for private endeavors.
Nonetheless, the intricate morphological layout and the rigorous fenestration maintain the appearance an overall fortified complex much like the Turó del Montgròs or many other defensive structures spread across Catalonia. The orthogonal strength of the exterior gives way to a much softer and organic interior, where the acoustic ceiling of the auditorium spans 18,5 meters of curvilinear, cloud-like lightness.
Siza presents us with material choices that are grounded in the building’s functionality and endurance, however one can’t help but be remembered of Alvar Aalto in his masterful juxtaposition of plastic universes: stepped Scandinavian wood intersecting the sensuous white form and warm texted brick towering the playfully deconstructed “locus”.
Far from landscapes of Helsinky or Säynätsalo, grounded in Mediterranean tradition and Iberian technique, Álvaro Siza renders another highly eloquent architectural hybrid, innovative yet respectful in its approach to the typological archetype of a public forum known as auditorium. Source by Antonio Choupina for Álvaro Siza Vieira.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Architects: Álvaro Siza Vieira + Aresta Arquitectura
Engineering: GOP Engenharia
Client: Municipality of Llinares del Vallès
Cost: 4,278,924 euros
Design phase: 2009 – 2011
Construction phase: 2012 – 2015
Photographs: João Morgado, Courtesy of Antonio Choupina for Álvaro Siza Vieira