Variation of modes of use: functions, users, schedules, etc.

Relationship between the ownership and the form of the investment that allows the transformation

Variation of the overall dimensions of the building

Proportional relationship between new spaces and existing spaces

Relationship between the structural adjustments and the existing structure

Relationship between the forms and types of pre-existing materials and those of the new intervention

Relationship between the image of the new and the image of the existing (mimesis / contrast)


Seville, Spain


Guillermo Vázquez Consuegra Arquitecto



Guillermo Vasquez Consuegra – Atarazanas Sevilla Cultural Center

PROJECT - Main Infos

PROJECT: Guillermo Vasquez Consuegra – Atarazanas Sevilla Cultural Center

LOCATION: Seville, Spain

YEAR: 2019

ARCHITECT / FIRM: Guillermo Vázquez Consuegra Arquitecto

BUYER: Fundación Caixa D’Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona “La Caixa”

SURFACE: 12.800 sqm

PRICE: € 9.000.000

The Atarazanas intervention is the result of the confluence of two impulses. The first one is referred to the passage of time; the second one has to do with the relationship between the building and the city. Both questions are connected and can be explained by themselves. We understand the passing of time as an unrepeatable and irretrievable phenomenon. The monument is not the testimony of a single epoch, but of the whole History. Monuments have had (and still have) countless successive periods. As a result of being built along different eras - identifying its construction process with the evolution of the city- the fact of accepting the presence of numerous layers overlaid by multiple cultures in the building as a singular value becomes implicit. Furthermore, a monument cannot be considered as an isolated object, neither an introvert nor self-centred artefact, but as a main element that constitutes the city, an active element that conforms a substantial part of the urban fabric, of the urban history. Studying the relationships between the buildings and the city allow us to understand both facts in a complementary way. City and monument have always maintained a prolific coexistence and juxtaposition. Atarazanas are, without any doubt, the most imposing civil space of the city. There is not any other more solemn interior space, royal, and at the same time, unknown, than the one that the ancient Atarazanas constitute, attached to a fragment of the Islamic wall. This interior space, fluid and continuous, enclosed within parallel lines of robust depressed arches that give shelter to the heavy brick vaults and fragile glass roofs, offers the building a wide range of multiple perspectives of arches driving into each other, creating a vast and infinite space, a unique space. The continuity of the space and the casual accordance of its floor level with Dos de Mayo street offers the main potential of this monument and explains which should be the relationship of it with the surrounding city. Nowadays, an implacable subtraction of public spaces is happening due to the privatisation, to the commercialisation or to the inadequate use of them. The Atarazanas Cultural Centre represents a magnificent opportunity to offer an open cultural agora to the city of Seville, a great multifunctional cultural space. Its vocation is to become a civic meeting point, a space to put the citizens in contact with the arts, culture and knowledge. The proposal is not only about the preservation of the building but about achieving its integration with the current life cycle of the city, with a contemporary reutilisation: creating a new cultural container, which is going to mean, without any doubt, the activation of the Arenal area, facilitating at the same time the longed relationship between the monumental ensemble and the river, thus generating and closely integrating the new cultural, touristic and economic flows with the historical landscape of the urban centre.

WHAT - Program

PREVALENT REPLACEMENT / DISCONTINUITY: The functional program is predominantly a new program.

The new intervention is defined from the respect and the fostering of the existing building values, trying to locate the program in empty or less significant spaces, giving new qualities to those with less architectural, construction and historical values and adding some elements to make them live together, in a peaceful and natural way with the existing architecture, always with the aim of reaching an integral high quality refurbishment for the whole ensemble. Our proposal is to place the majority of the Cultural Centre program into the upper floor available space, with the main purpose of keeping the existing ground floor space intact, and at the same time, opening this magnificent space to the city by the Dos de Mayo street façade, identifying thus the link between the Cultural Centre and the civic life of Seville. The magnificent and unexpected presence of the Cathedral and the Giralda tower from the upper level of Atarazanas has determined some of the decisions that have deeply affected the general organisation of the project. For example, the location of the transversal hall or the setting of the café/restaurant. A new fact that comes together with the rest of undeniable architectural values of the existing building.

WHO - Financing

PREVALENT REPLACEMENT / DISCONTINUITY: Financing for a minor part made by the original owner, mostly from another investor.

Caixabank foundation is the main investor in the refurbishment and conversion of the royal Atarazanas into new cultural equipment. The Cajasol foundation will be in charge of managing the Centre during the next twenty years of administrative concession gave by the Andalusia Government, and will make a yearly investment for its management and programming. On the other hand, the Andalusia Cultural Administration will complement this engagement with the contribution of human resources and materials for the development of the activities and the running of the centre.

HOW MUCH - Absolute Dimensions


TOTAL CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions are equal to the pre-existing surface.


PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions increase moderately with respect to the pre-existing volume.

The project keeps the actual built surface, and adapts itself carefully to the existing using the already existing levels and not exceeding the actual height of the volume facing Temprado Street.

HOW MUCH - Relative Dimensions

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: Pre-existing spaces are prevalent with respect to new spaces.

Inside the original space of Atarazanas (the ground floor), the proposal studies the restoration and complete refurbishment of the medieval arcades, the 18th century vaults and their metal roofing, providing the area with the required technical equipment to transform this space into an active cultural multipurpose venue. The rest of the program, logistics, library, access to the first level, to the administration area and the monument visitor’s centre complete the needed services for the correct running of the Atarazanas Cultural Centre. The new hall space, containing the main stairs and elevator core, is located in an existing empty space to avoid affecting the integrity of the arcades and vaults. Thus, there is not any demolish or dismantled element. The exhibition rooms are located in the upper level, as well as the multipurpose activity spaces, the cultural workshops and the projection rooms that fit smoothly in the old ‘Sala de Armas’ or in the derelict artillery warehouses, built at the end of the 18th century over the beautiful groin vaults of the lower level. There are also reconstructions and complementing of the pitched roofs, calling for the utmost discretion and respect, managing to pass unnoticed in the final configuration of the operated building.

HOW - Design Strategy STRUCTURE

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The supporting structure is mainly the original one.

Even if the existing filling material provides with an equilibration effect and contributes, without any doubt, to the structural stability of the arcade ensemble of the ground floor. The observed pathologies of the vaults, and the destabilized anomalies that the Atarazanas structure and entrance presented leaded to the reinforcement of the existing elements. The new transversal hall connecting the two upper naves, as well as the new roofs that are built to replace the existing, are completely made in metal. It is a precise intervention, measured and reversible, that will ensure the future structural stability of the monument.

HOW - Design Strategy MATERIAL

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The materials chosen for the new intervention show more similarities than differences compared to the pre-existing ones.

The materials used are in accordance with the existing building and are related to the construction tradition and the boat industry.

HOW - Design Strategy IMAGE

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The new intervention balances elements of continuity and discontinuity with respect to existing structures.

The new intervention balances elements of continuity and discontinuity with respect to the existing structures.