Entorno del Templo de Diana by José María
Sánchez García

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Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Spanish architect José María Sánchez García has created a public square with a raised viewing platform, surrounding a Roman temple in Mérida, Spain.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The two-storey concrete platform is roughly the same height as the adjacent Temple of Diana and has an exterior balcony that allows visitors to walk around three quarters of it's perimeter.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The square has an earth surface, as it would have done when it was used as a Roman forum.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Photography is by Roland Halbe.

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The following details are from the architects:


Roman Temple of Diana Surroundings and Perimetral Building

The project retrieves the environment of the Temple of Diana in Merida, which was the forum or the city center in Roman times.

The challenge of acting in a place with such historical and archaeological relevance has meant to work with the existing trace since the beginning, so that the finished work would recover this space from Roman times through modern language.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

This situation has led to conceive the architectural design not as something closed or completely defined before starting to run.

On the contrary, we worked in a more flexible way, defining the rules and guidelines on how to act in this place, that is to say, the syntax of the project itself, in order to absorb all the irregularities and changes due to the archaeological findings, without losing the initial concept of the proposal.

All this has been developed during five years that, with the archaeological works, the project definition and execution of the construction overlapping in time.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Click above for larger image

The project is solved with a perimeter piece L-shaped, with its own syntax, sewing its edge with the city and creating a large square around the temple.

This "L" is the union of the platform or high walk (which at the same level of the podium liberates the archaeological level at ground floor, allowing visitors to have a new relationship with the temple) and the structural wall (which puts in Temple value by framing and abstracting it from adjacent buildings).

Between the perimeter L piece and the city, a volume in the form of hanging boxes occupy interstitial spaces accommodating commercial and cultural uses.

Thus, the project, rather than a building is a raised platform, a floating structure capable of generating a new layer of city full of program.

To recover the Roman trace on ground floor, the perimeter structure is placed on the edge of the site, away from the temple, thus giving the largest possible surface to the public square.

The original sacred area is recovered, respecting the Roman archaeological features that are part of the sacred space: the temple, two side ponds, the crypto-portico and the Roman wall, which are now incorporated into the plaza.

The platform stands at about the same height of the podium of the temple to allow visitors to watch it as they were inside, while projecting a shadow over the square.

This way the temple environment gets geometrised, making the understanding of the space clear and not interrupted by the particularities of the back part of the existing buildings.

At the rear part, a volume system, flexible to changes in the perimeter, will occupy the interstitial spaces, shaping light patios that rhythmically fragment the platform's shadow. It defines a new order of light and shade in the square by the patios between the boxes.

The materialisation of the elements that build the new spaces has been studied by a contemporary interpretation of the materials that were part of the Roman space. The whole square will have an earth finishing, as it was originally.

The piece in L is defined as an artificial stone, made of lime and aggregates characteristic of the place with the granite-like color of the podium of the Temple. We don't talk about concrete as such, but a warmer artificial stone made using materials found in the surroundings.

Credits and Data

Project title: Perimetral building and Temple of Diana environments. Mérida, Spain
Location: Romero Leal and Santa Catalina street, Mérida, Spain
Construction: November 2009 - February 2011
Total floor area: 2158,19m2
Budget: 5.000.847,90 €
Architect: José María Sánchez García
Team: Enrique García-Margallo Solo de Zaldivar, Rafael Fernández Caparros, Maribel Torres Gómez, Laura Rojo Valdivielso, Francisco Sánchez García, José García-Margallo, Marta Cabezón López, Mafalda Ambrósio, Carmen Leticia Huerta, Marilo Sánchez García, Julia Ternström
Structural engineer: CDE Ingenieros, Gogaite S.L
Services engineer: ARO consultores
Technical architect: Ángel García Blázquez, Fernando Benito Fernández Cabello
Client: Consorcio Ciudad Monumental Histórico-Artístico y Arqueológica de Mérida, Consejería de Cultura – Junta de Extremadura
Building firm: UTE Templo de Diana (Procondal – Copcisa)

  • Flor

    Felicidades. Simple y majestuoso al mismo tiempo. Resalta las ruinas, las envuelve y unifica el contexto al tiempo que le genera un pórtico de acceso y espacio de transición. Buen ejemplo de combinación e integración entre el espacio y el tiempo.

  • aus

    Beautiful! Just a bit concerned when the 'commercial and cultural uses' will start to occupy the boxes.

  • yuc

    I liked the idea of recreating the perimeter elements of the Roman forum in a modern syntax, but at the end, these are nothing but a decoration of the original intention which is to hide the ugly walls of the surrounding houses.

  • Mks

    etypically espanish

    Very clean lines.

  • http://www.dailygrail.com Red Pill Junkie

    The beauty captured by its simplicity is humbling. A nice example that "less is more."

  • Perrine Montfort

    I really like how the new building recreate a beautiful square for the ruins and its simplicity. Though, the side of the building facing the surrounding house could be more porous and vernacular and create a play between the strict 'interior' facing the antiquity and the 'exterior' facing the urban fabric. Maybe they actually tried to do it this way, but as there is no photo from the surrounding street, i can't tell.
    Interesting project anyway.

  • Perrine Montfort

    I really like how the new building recreate a beautiful square for the ruins and its simplicity. Though, the side of the building facing the surrounding house could be more porous and vernacular and create a play between the strict 'interior' facing the antiquity and the 'exterior' facing the urban fabric. Maybe they actually tried to do it this way, but as there is no photo from the surrounding street, i can't tell.

  • loos

    no. that’s exactly where the project is most successful. it creates a complete isolation and a kind of mandala for the old and changes its context. any further connections to exteriors would ruin the project.

  • m

    terrible idea, terrible concept, not only from the architect but from the borough as well. it completely destroys the temple relationship with the city, almost like a museum piece.

    on a positive note, the platform leveled with the temple is a good idea.

    cheers

    • Nifty

      m,

      I couldn't disagree more. The remaining temple porch is still open to the dominant street, all side streets except one appear to remain open and still have views, and the density of the infill seems much more appropriate to the adjacent city fabric. Even so, many of the remaining buildings seem to have very few openings facing the temple.

      My biggest concern is, as someone stated above, what happens when this building begins to be inhabited? It could either add a beautiful local texture, or it could create a garrish wrapper.

  • Italo

    Very nice building.
    But why don´t build insid and above the temple…

  • http://www.facebook.com/cesar.webdesign Cesar Niculescu

    Very clean lines and definition to surround the temple. I wish there was more green space/ vegetation integrated with the new development to add shade and ambiance.