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Junya Ishigama on the cover of the October 2019 issue of Azure Magazine. The Innovators Issue.
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October 2019

#275
October 2019

The Innovators Issue: Junya Ishigama's genre-busting architecture, Sidewalk Labs and the future of the city, and more!

In Sunny cartagena, a futuristic mass of steel and polycarbonate hovers over the ancient Roman ruins of Molinete Park. “Our idea was to have something like a cloud,” says Nicolás Maruri, a principal of the Madrid architecture firm Amann-Cánovas-Maruri, which designed the canopy. The architects also installed an elevated deck below, which provides views over a Roman bath, a forum – and a house decor­ated with ancient wall paintings.

The project is part of a long-running urban renewal initiative that has transformed a formerly rough district in the Spanish city into a popular destination. Sixty years ago, “This was where all the prostitutes were,” says Maruri. “It was the worst place in the city.” His firm has a rich history with the site. Nineteen years ago, it won a competition to prepare a 40,000-square-metre master plan to modernize the area. It has since completed a bold health care centre, and is in the midst of several other local projects. Meanwhile, archaeologists were seeking funding for a dig that would expose the Roman ruins they knew lay beneath some small houses (which have since been removed). As part of their vision, the architects proposed a covered museum, with the city above. Yet opposition from residents buried that project. “They wanted something more like Pompeii – an open archaeological site,” Maruri explains.

The archaeologists finally began to dig a few years ago and discovered the wall paintings. They determined that the find required protection from the sun and rain, which negated the idea of a completely open site. So they enlisted Amann-Cánovas-Maruri to build a visually arresting protective layer. The resulting structure represents a middle ground of sorts: an open-air museum beneath a stunning origami cloud. With perforated steel cladding above and a ceiling of poly­carbon­ate ­panels below, the 1,847-square-metre canopy allows daylight to filter in while protecting the ruins from the harshest elements. It also evokes a stark contrast between the site’s past and its future. “You always have this fight between the architects who want to have a city, and the archaeologists who want to preserve history and remains,” says Maruri. The citizens of Cartagena now have the best of both.

AZURE is an independent magazine working to bring you the best in design, architecture and interiors. We rely on advertising revenue to support the creative content on our site. Please consider whitelisting our site in your settings, or pausing your adblocker while stopping by.