Project name: Plaza and Senses Museum in Adeje
Designer: Fernando Menis
Designer team. Architecture collaborators: Juan Bercedo, Maria Berga, Alejandro García. Consultants: Calcularq SL (structure), ZAS Engineers, Ramón García, Carlos Borromeo (quantities survey)
Location: Adeje, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Client: Town Hall of Adeje
Cost: 1,764.247 Euros
Site area: 4.034 m2
Gross floor area: 1.217 m2
Design time: 2007 – 2009
Completion date: 2010 (Plaza); 2009 – ongoing (Museum)
Construction unity: Construcciones Daltre; Francisco Hernández (construction superviser)
Photographs: Simona Rota
Awards: 2006 Sacred Museum Competition, 1st place Public Urban Space European Award 2012. 7th Edition finalist Winner of two WAF Award: New & Old Category and Director’s Award
Plaza España and the Senses Museum is a preservation and enlargement operation in Adeje, the main town in Tenerife South, off the coast. The plaza is in use since 2006 while the construction of the museum and its adjacent spaces have been paralyzed during the economical crisis to end in order to be completed.
The commission for this scheme was the result of a public call for projects won by Menis in 2005, with a design that combined respect for the built and natural heritage with a programme that would contribute to the further sustainable development of the town. The old town plays a major role in Adeje’s daily routine and its future development since it is the location of the church and convent buildings, along with the town hall, forming an ensemble that hosts the main activities of the town.
The proposed design aimed to create a meeting point at all levels: between locals, between locals and tourists, between nature and town, between tourists and the overwhelming view over El Barranco del Infierno. The proposed buildings and topographies therefore had to be enough attractive to both locals and visitors, it had to incorporate existing values and enhance them, promoting a cultural and touristic attraction in the town and advocating quality tourism that will further lead to economic growth on the basis of alternative activities to those offered on the coast.
The plaza’s layout covers an old part of the town, on the edge of a strikingly deep ravine known as El Barranco del Infierno, which is one of the tourist attractions on the island of Tenerife. Before Menis’s intervention, there was a small plaza under the shadow of a big tree and some housing ruins completely blocked views over the dramatic surrounding landscape, The Church of Santa Úrsula on one side and the Franciscan Convent on the other side. Architecture acts here as a way to bring people nearer to the natural environment while respecting and framing existing values. The project gracefully dealt with this barrier and unveiled the picturesque mountains formerly hidden behind while taking good care for a harmonic integration with the existing historical heritage, the Church, the he built and natural landscape of the village.
The design is based on an open-plan ground floor and lays out the rest of the programme on platforms to offer the best views. The entire surface of the plot is freed and the plaza thus created, twice and a half larger than the old one, combines the function of the square as a place of sociability, a place to see and be seen, like the Greek agora, and as an open-air theatre with the landscape as a backdrop. Now, the people, locals as well as tourists, can meet, sit and contemplate the extraordinary landscape that appears in front. Menis’s design achieves a new public space for the town, a meeting point for big events or daily hanging out and it also achieves a great venue for any of the many tourists that visit the area or stop by while going for trekking in the mountains. The materials used for the plaza are polished and rough concrete as well as locally sourced basalt. The neutral colours integrate well with the existing Church while leaving the entire protagonist to the natural tableau impressively displaying in front.
Besides the plaza, the project consists of a Senses Museum and new rooms for the Town Hall’s administration. This part of the project is half-buried with an upper space used as cafeteria and underground floors used as spaces for exhibitions. The highest level of the building houses the historical archive and library and the formal expression of this part is contained. The exhibition spaces (ethnological museum, museum of photography and museum of sacred art) underground belong to a telluric world in which overhead light is drawn in through a winding itinerary that provokes sensations and draw itineraries, reminiscent of the cave, perhaps evoking the Resurrection.