Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza
This office building for the advisory board of Castile and León is sited across from the Romanesque Cathedral – famous for its exquisite dome built from sheets of stone – within the ancient walled city of Zamora.

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza
The austere stone walls and the paving are made with the same local stone as the 850 year-old Cathedral and medieval city walls – a golden-hued sandstone. The irregular enclosure takes its shape from the former convent’s kitchen garden. There are two distinct courtyards at either end of the central building: spaces from which to stand and appreciate the glass object within.

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza
The minimal two-story building within this self-enclosed precinct is entirely glazed.  What is most remarkable, is the apparent lack of framing or structure supporting the double-layered glass skin. White columns are set back well within the footprint and the glazing wraps up and over onto the roof to produce the effect of a building without walls.

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza
In fact, vertical glass fins separate outer layer of the facade from the floor plates and provide horizontal rigidity. The cavity between the glass is ventilated in summer to prevent overheating. In winter, it traps solar radiation, helping to heat the building through the greenhouse effect. 

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza
The facade detailing is handled so delicately by Campo Baeza, that at times the building’s walls seem to vanish entirely. There’s a poetic contrast between the massive stone boundary walls and the near invisibility of the walls of the building within. 

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza
The roof is covered by a patio, raised level with the outer wall, offering views of the sky and the town’s surrounding roofscape. A glass pavilion is at its center.

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

The architect describes the building in his own words:

“HORTUS CONCLUSUS

In collaboration with Pablo Fernández Lorenzo, Pablo Redondo Díez, Alfonso González Gaisán and Francisco Blanco Velasco 

We raised high stone walls built of the same stone as the Zamora Cathedral, that follow the outline of the site, like a box open to the sky. We thus achieve a secret garden in which we conserve and plant leafy trees, aromatic plants and flowers.
And we open openings in these stone walls that frame, from within, the cathedral, the landscape and the surrounding buildings. And in this verdant garden we build a transparent glass box that makes it seem as if one is working within the garden.

For the stone wall, qualities and dimensions were studied to express the strength of the stone in the same way as it is in the Cathedral. The same stone in large dimensions and with great thickness that accentuate the strength of the proposal.
For the building itself, a glazed and perfectly controlled facade was conceived, with maximum simplicity in its construction system. The facade works actively in regard to the climate, able to hold in heat in the winter (greenhouse effect) and at the same time to expel the heat and protect the building in the summer (ventilated facade)

It is a stone box open to the sky that holds a crystalline box and protects it and tempers it, immersed in the midst of a wonderful garden.”

Here are the architect’s sketches, followed by his narrative:

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

 

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

 

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

 

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza

 

JA+U : Offices in Zamora for the Junta de Castilla y León by Alberto Campo Baeza


“BUILDING WITH AIR

The offices of the Castilla León Junta in Zamora.

To build with air, the abiding dream of every architect: 

Facing the cathedral and following the outline of the former convent’s kitchen garden, we erect a strong stone wall box open to the sky. Its walls and floors entirely made of stone. The very same stone as the Cathedral. A real Hortus Conclusus. In the corner facing the cathedral, a massive stone measuring 250x150x50, a veritable Cornerstone. And chiselled on that stone: 

HIC LAPIS ANGULARIS MAIO MMXII POSITO 

Within the stone box, a glass box, only glass.  Like a greenhouse. With a double facade similar to a Trombe wall. The external skin of the facade is made of glass, each single sheet measuring 600x300x12 and all joined together simply with structural silicone and hardly anything else. As if entirely made of air. 

The trihedral upper angles of the box are made completely with glass, thus even further accentuating the effect of transparency. Precisely what Mies was looking for in his Friedrichstrasse tower. The trihedron built with air, a true Glass Corner. And engraved in acid on the glass: 

HOC VITRUM ANGULARIS MAIO MMXII POSITO

The stone box made from Memory.  With its Cornerstone deeply rooted in the soil. The glass box made for the Future. With its Glass Corner blending into the sky. 

To build with air, the abiding dream of every architect. 

Alberto Campo Baeza