SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (ES) - The headquarters of the SGAE (General Society of Authors and Publishers) in northern Spain, occupies a prominent site between a private garden and a public green area that affords views of the skyline of the historical city, which is always crammed with pilgrims from every part of the world. The programme comprises social activities for authors and publishers and a wide range of cultural activities for the general public. Ensamble Studio's Antón García-Abril divided the programme into four areas: cultural activities, education, public area and administration.
The building presents as a confrontation of three contrasting walls which limit interior and exterior spaces: a stone wall overlooking the garden, an internal wall made of CD boxes, and a translucent glass wall facing the road. All three act as filters for different urban conditions while also delimiting and organizing the programme in functional strips. The massive stone wall can be thought of as a monumental urban sculpture. The grey granite stone of this facade appears in one of its purest forms, as irregular blocks of varying shapes and sizes, selected from quarry offcuts and seemingly randomly arranged in a permeable structure that breaks up the strong southern light, creating interesting patterns of light and shade. The stone wall combines a traditional building technique with a contemporary steel tension cable structure that helps to stabilize the whole wall.
The building can be read as a street and an urban space inside a garden, investing the site with renewed vitality. It can also be read as a stone wall that is both boundary and backdrop, fencing in the garden and reinterpreting a material that is typical of the place: stone, specifically Mondariz grey granite. (Gonzalo Herrero Delicado & M. José Marcos)