Located in La Coruña, northern Spain, the Fundación Caixa Galicia, is an award-winning arts and cultural centre which hosts and promotes the collection of the Caixa Galicia, Spanish bank. The collection is displayed across four permanent galleries on the upper floors. A temporary exhibition space and an auditorium are located in the lower ground floors and there is an Internet café and art bookshop on street level. The director’s suite, comprising conference and dining facilities, is located on the fifth and sixth floors. The main elevation of the building is clad with glass-laminated marble by Artifex London. A transparent holographic projection screen is suspended in front of the street façade and is used to announce exhibitions and events.
Fundación Caixa Galicia was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners in 2004 in collaboration with Arup. The challenge for Arup was to engineer a modern, technologically advanced building that could be constructed on a restricted site in an historic city quarter. The building links public gardens in front with a network of streets and alleys behind. An internal glazed ‘street’, which functions as an atrium, gives visitors views into the galleries and down into the foyer and basement auditorium.
The translucent stone façade amounted to a requirement of 395m2 and Artifex London was awarded the contract to supply the panels constructed from Bianco Candido marble. The panel make-up comprised a 6mm HST glass outer-layer, 4mm marble centre and 6mm toughened glass inner-layer.
One of the most striking features of the design is the saw-tooth arrangement of stone panels that are arranged either side of the glass atrium. This amounted to a requirement for 620m2 and the same Bianco Candido marble with an acid-etched finish to match the architect’s requirement was employed. Although this element did not need to be translucent, it needed to be of lightweight construction nevertheless. Artifex London supplied a laminate comprised of a 4mm HST glass, outer-layer, a 4mm Bianco Candido centre and 9mm aluminium honeycomb backing.
Both panel types were rigorously tested in the UK by the BRE (Buildings Research Establishment) for wind-resistance/deflection, hard and soft body impacting and other stress criteria.
The project was completed in June 2006 and was awarded a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award in the same year.