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Emerging London practice EBBA wins Spanish plaza contest

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EBBA Architects has won an open international contest for a landmark temporary timber intervention in the city of Logroño, Spain

The London-based practice – founded by Benni Allan two years ago – was chosen ahead of 50 rival bids to transform the city’s Plaza Santa Ana public space.

The contest was one of three anonymous competitions organised as part of the city’s Concéntrico 05 festival.

The others – focusing on a pavilion at nearby Plaza Escuelas Trevijano and an installation at the Viña Lanciano de Bodegas vineyard – were won by local firms Gadea Burgaz y Pablo Losa Fontangordo and Juan Llamazares Argüelles respectively.

The three winning teams will design and deliver their structures out of Garnica plywood in time for the festival, which runs from 26 April to 1 May next year.

EBBA’s winning scheme features a series of moveable columns which can be ‘reorganised to create new spatial configurations’ during the day and serve as light-up beacons at night.

The contests invited participants to draw up proposals incorporating 20 sheets of Garnica plywood for three landmark sites in Logroño, which is the capital of the Rioja province in northern Spain. The winning teams will receive €2,000 each plus materials to deliver their schemes in time for the festival.

Architects’ view: Concentrico 5 – Plaza Santa Ana Installation

Columns

The simple act of placing a column in a space can transform the use and understanding of the city. Logroño is well known for its unique streets and patios that create a sense of urban rooms at different scales. The column, as a device, gives opportunity for redefining and reactivating the patios by its inhabitants. These columns – known as ‘Las Columns Misteriosas’ – can be rearranged and will allow the activation of the Plaza of Santa Ana throughout the day. As a simple gesture, the columns can be reorganised to create new spatial configurations, and at night they can transform into light beacons to give the square a new life and a totally different experience in the city.

EBBA Architects's winning scheme for Plaza Santa Ana, Logroño

EBBA Architects’s winning scheme for Plaza Santa Ana, Logroño

The story of the column – intervention for public and urban activation

  1. The public square is a place for gathering and social acts that help to give Logroño its identity. In an architectural sense its a space as an urban room, like at the Town Hall.
  2. Defining space: The column is a simple device that helps to mark an entrance or threshold between different spaces, including how to move through them.
  3. Enclosing space: The column works to make a ‘room’ by defining the limits to the space and creating an edge.
  4. Anchoring a space: A column helps to anchor a place and allows movement to happen around it.

EBBA Architects's winning scheme for Plaza Santa Ana, Logroño

EBBA Architects’s winning scheme for Plaza Santa Ana, Logroño

Activating the square by day and night

The placement of 10 columns within the patio become places for new rituals and celebrations. They act as small monuments that can help to transform the city. As well as marking the square they can be re-organised to further emphasise the inside-outside qualities of the patio. At night the columns transform to create a ‘farola’ of light to activate the space. The cast light from within the columns makes a totally new way of experiencing the patios. The proposal suggests ways of activating the patio during the day and also at night as a simple gesture to the city.

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