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Anglo-Australian practice GFA2 wins £1.6m Spanish art gallery contest

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AZPML offshoot GFA2 has won an international project for a landmark new £1.6 million art gallery in Santander, Spain

The London and Sydney studio – founded by former AZPML architect Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal and his brother Gabriel who previously worked for Rafael Moneo in Madrid and for David Chipperfield Architects in London – was selected ahead of a raft of local firms to win the 1,000m² commission.

The duo’s winning scheme will transform the former Naves de Gamazo industrial warehouse in the port of Santander into a new contemporary art gallery for the Enaire Foundation, which is the cultural wing of the Spanish air traffic control service, Enaire.

The project will restore and enhance the 1901 waterfront building, which was originally designed by Jesús Grinda and Forner and significantly remodelled in the 1950s.

The winning scheme will create a new translucent roof over the main space, which will host exhibitions while a foyer, services, offices, storage and a temporary gallery will be created in an annexe.

According to a statement by the practice: ‘The current proposal is materialised through a sequence of interventions expanding from the emphasis on specific historical elements, the re-reading of other components or the appearance of new parts that demonstrate the richness in the layered complexity of the building.

‘The structural beams that characterise the space are carefully restored, the existing walls are re-interpreted through a cleaning and whitening exercise, and the new contemporary layer is kept to a minimum. One roof, two internal and three external openings define the scheme.

‘The new translucent roof over the galleries provides a calm and introspective atmosphere. The internal openings connect the public areas of the foundation, and three identical perforations punctuate the façade. One marks the building entrance, the other two connect the galleries and the visitors to the harbour and distant view of Peña Cabarga.’

Public realm improvements will also include outdoor sculptures, two flower beds and a canopy together with a green wall and signage for the foundation.

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