On the Portuguese border, the small Spanish city of Badajoz is a treasure trove of Moorish and medieval architecture, along with preserved remnants of Roman and Visigothic structures that have stood for over 1,500 years. But for all its historic character, the Iberian town also fosters contemporary design innovation – in surprising places. Look no further than the waiting room at the city’s central bus station.
Designed by Spanish architect José María Sánchez García, the striking new space transforms the ground floor of the Villanueva de la Serena station into a tranquil and light-filled space of respite – all thanks to a three-dimensional ceramic tile that was custom-designed by the architect for the project.
“We designed the space in reverse,” explains Sánchez García. “While architects usually begin from a general idea of the space and then refine the details, a single detail became the idea.” Consisting of three 90° triangular prisms in each 15-by-30-centimetre panel, the extruded white tiles – which were developed in partnership with Ácrata Cerámica – define the modest space.
Used across both the interior and the exterior of the waiting area, the simple tile fosters a sense of continuity and aesthetic wholeness. “We wanted it to feel as empty and calm as possible,” says Sánchez García.
With sunlight limited due to the room’s extruded ceiling, the rigorous use of white tile helps extend the feeling of a light-filled space deep into the recessed interior.
Meanwhile, the articulated tiles take on surprising depth as light and shadows move across the surface, lending the radically spare waiting room a sense of depth and richness.
Accented only by spare benches and elevated leaning posts, the space offers an antidote to the often harried experience of urban transit. Lauded as a winning project at the 2020 Tile of Spain Awards, Sánchez García’s design crafts an elegant space for a decidedly quotidian function. In Badajoz, at least, waiting for the bus is anything but mundane.
In Badajoz, architect José María Sánchez García transforms a mundane room into a space of respite.