Guadalajara Historical Archive

Rojo / Fernández-Shaw

Architects: Rojo / Fernández-Shaw arquitectos
Location: Guadalajara, Spain
Year: 2012
Photography: Hisao Suzuki and Rojo/Fernández-Shaw arquitectos

The design took the geometric and spatial character of the filing module as its point of departure, giving rise to a regular, articulated and patterned structural system that maximizes the built volume and produces a compact construction based on the principle of stacking: stacked documents, stacked shelving units and, ultimately, stacked independent storage rooms.

Given the foundation of this regular and homogeneous special organization, the proposal develops by superimposing four operations on top of it:

First, adapting the orthogonal structure to the gentle slope of the plot, resting the building lightly on the ground, avoiding situating any of the document-storage areas under the ground level, and integrating the built volume into the natural topography of the plot and the city.

Second, separating public areas from the areas occupied by personnel through separate entrances and differentiation of the various levels. Thus, each circulation route is given the appropriate image from the outside and, inside, the flows and circulations are rationalized.

Third, introducing a large open vertical atrium at the entrance to create a larger-scale, transparent and representative space. This space adds dignity to the image of the Archive from the public realm of the city, while promoting its integration into the urban environment and offering transparency towards the inside.

Fourth, adding a protective envelope around the structure, forming the roof as well as the east and west facades, to generate the image of a compact container with a fabric-like texture, while facilitating efficient climate control (indirect lighting, natural ventilation, and control of exposure to sunlight).

The geometry and materiality of this metallic envelope mediate between the feeling of an opaque container and an urban building that is open toward its environment – between the archive as a “safe” and its social, cultural, and symbolic function in the city. In that sense, the surface is permeable and decorative, filtering the flow between the inside and the outside and connecting the architecture with its surroundings.