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Between city & Landscape: Albergue na Calzada do Sar

Part 1 Project 2009
Tsuyoshi Wada
University of East London London | UK
Where the rural countryside leaves room for the first glimpses of the city, when the destination is within reach and the experience of pilgrimage is about to end, the tower of the albergue, visible from a distance before the pilgrims are able to see the cathedral, marks an invisible border, a mental gate. Here pilgrims pause to prepare mentally and clean themselves as a ritual to complete the journey in the best possible way.
A lower volume, in close contact with earth, contains all the facilities related to our body such as eating, cleansing and sleeping. All these are arranged in a ritual around a public washing place that is at the same time gathering place for the reformed community and beginning of a ritual of preparation.
The albergue is built as a series of concrete in-situ structural walls supporting a roof slab. This allows for the internal elevation of the courtyard to be free from any main structural element. All the internal realms are defined with the use of horizontal timber lining identical in dimensions to the timber shuttering used vertically for the exterior concrete shell.
The tower changes the whole landscape, not only by its own sculptural presence, but also by its suggestion of a different world beyond. The room at the top of the tower is a destination for pilgrims to look back at the Camino they came from and collect their memories and ignite their emotions.

Tsuyoshi Wada

Between city & landscpe
Albergue na Calzada do Sar, Santiago de Compostela

In November 2008 we walked 150 km of the Via de la Plata, part of the network of Jacobean routes that leads to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The slowness of the pace provided the opportunity to collect numerous precious fragments that allowed the student to knit a sophisticated relation between the symbolism of pilgrimage, communal life in rural settlements and an attitude to materials of the place.
The design project is for an albergue: a building of public nature where pilgrims can find basic services and shelter overnight. The student chose as the location for the new albergue the dramatic moment when pilgrims can contemplate for the first time the cathedral in Santiago.
The project integrates the elements found along the route, such as water or the presence of vertical volumes that guide the pilgrims towards the destination, with others that became apparent while carefully drawing and observing Cambridge Courtyards, such as the notion of “gate” or courtyard as space for reflection.
The various ingredients give hints of how and where the project should be. From there the proposal is developed in a precise and rigorous manner, trying to achieve a spatial and tectonic clarity that are manifest at the various scales the project operates, from the tangible to the intangible.
The careful and precise way in which the student wants to work allows him to make decisions about construction, structure, materials and services, and the relation of those to spatial and architectonic ideas, in a linear and reasoned manner. This methodology allows for a poetic coherence to emerge from the delicately crafted drawings and models implemented to communicate.


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