The Marine Research Institute [IIM] of Vigo creates a small ‘citadel’ that seeks to link the estuary, the sea, and the history of its banks. The components that make it up are lightweight and transparent, yet at the same time, they exhibit a rigorous and patterned construction order that recalls the industrial morphology of the ships that existed in that same place when they were part of the Naval Telecommunications and Electricity School [ETEA]. A repetitive and neutral geometric structure builds a ‘playing field’ in which any programmatic arrangement is possible, at the time of its construction and also in the future. The project relies on an industrial construction process, proposing a prefabricated load-bearing structure, simple and robust details, and a reduction of finishes and cladding to leave most of the interior spaces exposed and flexible.
The location, pre-existing conditions, and competition requirements leave little room for speculation on the volume of the new buildings as this is quickly fixed. The most challenging task is to understand a large and complex functional program that has the rigidity of relationship between enclosures that is typical of this type of research laboratory, and that must also be constructed in different phases. Therefore, the project places greater emphasis on construction and typological issues to ‘recover’ the generic condition that was already present in the buildings that existed in that place. It is an updated reconstruction that looks to the future of the volume, character, and atmosphere of that formidable place.
The program precisely meets the requirements of the competition, and the different functional blocks are positioned as required by the competition rules and in accordance with the relationships established in the specifications.