Basque Culinary Centre by Vaumm



Spanish architecture practice Vaumm have won a competition to design a culinary centre at Donostia-San Sebastián in the Basque region of Spain, with their design resembling a pile of stacked plates.


The Basque Culinary Centre will be a learning centre for gastronomic sciences.


Located on a slope, the layers of the building will follow the contours of the hill.


Here's some text from the Basque Culinary Centre:


Project competition with Jury Intervention for the Basic Project and Design technical assistant during the Constructive Project and construction Works for the Gastronomic Science University and Research & Innovation Centre for Gastronomic Science- BASQUE CULINARY CENTRE in Donostia-San Sebastián.



In May 2009 Mondragon University (Mondragon Unibertsitatea) and Basque Chefs created the Basque Culinary Centre Foundation, with the support of the Public Institutions.

The centre will be located in San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain, and will become the head-office of the Gastronomic Science University and Innovation and Research centre in Gastronomic Sciences of Mondragon University, so that this building will be singular as the first building where the programme is brought together.


The Basque Culinary Centre has the aim of Professional Training, Research, Innovation and the transfer of knowledge of the different areas of the Gastronomic Sciences, generating research processes between Universities, Technological Centres, Companies and Public Institutions (Donostia- San Sebastián Townhall, Diputación Foral Gipuzkoa, Basque Government, Spanish Government through the Science and Innovation Ministry.


General aspects of the proposal

The new building that will house Basque Culinary Centres head-office is located in a tangential site to the Miramon Technological Business Park. This condition of proximity with the very steep slope of the site assumes the starting point of this architectonic proposal.


On the one hand, the building must become the icon of the Gastronomic Science University, showing towards the exterior an image based on technology and innovative leadership, but on the other hand, it must respect and interact with the scale of the low density quartier where it settles down. It is because of this dual condition that the building makes the most of the slope to organize the functional programme from the upperside to lowerside, locating the public areas on the access floor, allowing for the speciality of the programme while going down, while entering the building.


The volume takes a U-shape, through which on the way down the slope is allowed, without forgetting the fact that it gives shape to the interior spaces through which all of the circulation is developed. This way a space full of activity is configured, where all the relationships and interchanges take place as two determined elements for the innovation act.


From a functional point of view, it has to be mentioned that this diagram organizes the use of the programme in a summarized way, in three groups, one of them related to the Academic area and one another to the Practice area and the last one to the Research area. Vertically bringing together the way all the spaces relate to the Gastronomic Practice area, as the changing-rooms, ateliers, precooking kitchen, access to raw and other kitchens, we get the interconnection between them for people and food in a straight way.


From a far distance the building shows the different levels that give shape to it, comparing its scale to the buildings of the Technological Business Park, while from a short distance the roof becomes an area used for cultivation of edible and aromatic plants, almost neutralizing the effect of the building towards the closest semi-detached housings.The building expresses itself the condition of the slope as an aspect drawn from the place emphasizing the character of support of the floor structure that are piled up as untidy dishes following the contour lines. As the floor structures are shown as activity supports, the dishes keep the iconographical value as the support of the work developed in the kitchen.


Volume generation

From a conceptual point of view, volume generation is based on the scale of work between the iconographical image (piled up dishes) and the building itself.

The artist Robert Therrien (Chicago 1947) handles daily kitchen objects such as dish services, pots, to uplift them into artistic objects, by means of accumulations, scale multiplications. The plane character of these objects has a contrast with their iconographical presence when they assume their new dimension.

The same strategy has been taken to the exterior volume definition of the building, where the Therrien’s dishes will function as daily support of the spaces related to the Technological development and innovation in Gastronomy. In this way we suggest the metaphor that joins Gastronomy and Architecture; the “dish that becomes again the support of the Gastronomy” and the “architectural floor structures that become again the support of the activity”.




Iñigo García Odiaga
Marta Álvarez Pastor
Jon Muniategiandikoetxea Markiegi
Javier Ubillos Pernaut
Tomás Valenciano Tamayo


Laida Juanikorena Agirre, Architecture PFC student
Itziar Modrego Monforte, Architecture PFC student

Posted on Sunday August 2nd 2009 at 9:00 am by Zaynab D. Ziari. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • R

    So where is the architecture?

    Firstly, it is indeed not more than a pile of stacked plates. Secondly, it looks very much alike other projects. Next to that the renderings don’t seem to make sense. The height of the people doesn’t seem to be correct or the spaces are very low.

  • The 90’s called and want their renderings and models back.

  • Joaquin

    Are u serious? It fails in many visual ways. I’ll try to list my point of view here so I won’t sound like just a blog hooligan or spitter:

    1)The bird-eye views and the models might be salvaging, but I see overall the building looks like a stack post-tension parking! Too bad the sophisticate planning doesn’t reflect on the boring elevations at all.

    2)No plans and sections, as usual, perhaps because a section would really show ‘a stack pile of (floor) plates.’

    2)I see that they didn’t even bother to photoshop the sky n’ cloud behind the foliage (see picture second to last). I would understand if a very limited time frame was posted against them, but I think an extra effort to give some final touch before publicizing it on Dezeen would’ve been suitable. It’s Dezeen, people!

    3)I think the building looks like a student’s first draft, a circulation model, yet to be smashed and reshaped totally by instructors.

    The concept behind the context and all might be telling some story, but I do think no one would bother reading or listening to it if the end-product is not attracting them to do so.

    I’m not trying to spoil things here, and I’m mostly very optimistic and excited when it comes to commenting, but I really think this design is really making a bad name for Dezeen’s standard. I think there are probably freshmen in architecture who do a lot of better works, and I won’t mind students’ works or how crazy or naive they are as long as it is ATTRACTIVE and EVOCATIVE. Can Dezeen please make more careful selections next time? I clicked into this project because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

  • marcel

    very spanish, a little bit boring

  • bla bla

    nice pie! pumkin pie?

  • Meh. It looks like just another unremarkable building at any one of a thousand anonymous industrial parks next to an interstate highway. Drive I-270 between Rockville and Frederick, Maryland, and you can see any number of similar structures.

  • filippo

    the worst renderings in the world! I’m sick!

  • ktxprrt

    well, you can check the contest website for more information and check out the floorplans etc, which are well designed and studied.
    are we judging projects only by their renderings?????????? i can´t believe it.

  • Joe

    Well this does not impress me. From the architecture concept to the qualities of presentation. Anything else has been already told.

  • Will M

    “Here’s one I made earlier”

  • roman kralya

    As project it is very interesting. And i think architects didn`t have a final solution about facades this why rendering looks so boring. Also i`d like to see interious…

  • Constantin

    Good work. I like the U shape and the integration with the slope. I would like to see some interiors also but cool idea for a culinary centre.

  • excelent project with high landscape´s integration. congratulation for Vaumm