The project for the future headquarters of the Rodin Museum in Tenerife, recognized at the RTF Awards for Sustainable Architecture

The international Rethinking the Future Awards, now in its eleventh edition, are held annually from India and reward architecture, urban planning, interior design and landscaping projects from around the world, which stand out for their sustainable and innovative solutions. In this call, more than 1,200 proposals from 50 countries have been presented in the different award categories. The rehabilitation project of the Viera y Clavijo Park, the future headquarters of the Rodin Museum in Tenerife, has won the second prize in the category of future cultural project, thus recognizing the adaptive use of a place with historical and heritage value.

The emblematic Viera y Clavijo Park in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, built in 1903 with a project by the architect Mariano Estanga and the engineer José Rodrigo Vallabriga, has been formed as a cultural complex, made up of the Pérez Minik Theater and the Colegio de la Asunción, an old neo-Gothic church founded by Belgian nuns, later transformed into the first college for women in Tenerife, which was in operation until 1978. The only example of a neo-Gothic religious building in the city, the College has the category of Cultural Interest of the Canary Islands (Artistic Historical Monument) since 1986.

The park houses extensive gardens that contain some botanical gems such as its immense Ceiba, a tree of Caribbean origin whose crown extends over 20 meters in diameter. In its shadow, the old students of the school received classes in the middle of the 20th century. In the gardens there is also a bronze sculpture by Joan Miró, the Femme Bouteille o Colosal Insecto, which was donated to the city of Santa Cruz in the mid-1970s as a result of the I International Street Sculpture Exhibition.

After its rehabilitation, the Viera y Clavijo Cultural Park will be a 15,000 m2 open-plan green public space in the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with views of the sea and the ravine and with an important role in reestablishing the connection between the lower and the upper part of the city. In addition, it will house the second headquarters of the Rodin Museum in Europe: in addition to the central headquarters in Paris, there are only two other spaces in the world dedicated exclusively to the work of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin: the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia in the United States of America and a wing in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefectural Museum.

The central idea of ​​the project proposed by Menis is respect for both the existing architecture and the surrounding nature – the vegetation, the ravine and the topography – while integrating needs raised by the administrations such as the construction of an underground car park. The old school and the chapel will be rehabilitated and the current park will be enlarged in the form of a green ring. A small forest of Ceibas will be planted to accompany the existing specimen and urban gardens will be included for educational purposes, thus resuming an ancient tradition that already existed in the Colegio de la Asunción. To reestablish the connection with the city, the existing wall will be removed, new entrances to the park will be opened and the sidewalks around it will be widened.

The park is located at the intersection of some highly relevant urban circulations and connects the lower area (ravine) with one of the entrance avenues to the city. However, the progressive urban development, the existing perimeter wall and the proximity of the ravine contributed to its growing isolation from the rest of the city, while the narrow and few sidewalks make it unsafe to walk along them.

As he has been doing throughout his long professional career, Menis also applies the philosophy of Km0 architecture here as an economic and sustainability strategy: everything is designed using what exists in the environment, from materials and techniques to local workers and craftsmen. He prioritizes the Circular Economy through the use of recycled aggregate, tuff and picón (local volcanic stone). The consumption of accessible materials in the place, such as concrete, not only reduces the CO2 impact but also maintains the good local tradition. The design is supported by the use of natural elements such as natural light, trade winds for cross ventilation and rainwater harvesting for irrigation of green spaces. Durable materials that improve with age will also be used to ensure low-cost, timely maintenance.

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