- L35 Architects
Puerto Venecia shopping centre, located on the southern outskirts of Zaragoza, is a fairly unique combination of sleek modern forms and an idyllic-looking morphology. The many building volumes that collectively form the complex vary in height, feature different façade materials, and range in shape from slanting to straight to round.
Yet this diversity is never disturbing,because the overall architecture – including the choice of materials and carefully selected colour palette – creates unity. The architectural firm, L35, led by José Ignacio Galán and Jose Luis Martínez, has thus created a coherent, serene visual ambience in which each individual shop in this shopping centre is given a place of its own.
The reference to Venice is reflected in the heart of the complex. Here we find a scenic landscaped lagoon, complete with a fringe of reeds. Around it runs a promenade from which the visitor enters the different parts of the complex. Because the emphasis in the perception of the whole is so explicitly focused on the exterior, the challenge is then to make the inside of the centre as light and open as possible. The concept of the ‘indoor street’ is a generally accepted structure for shopping centres, but in many cases these spaces appear to be oversized corridors rather than streets. Here it is the careful design of the skylights and façade openings allowing the entry of light that determine the extent to which a design succeeds or fails.
Sculptural light wells
Designing for an environment beneath the Spanish sun has its pros and cons. Control of the incidental sunlight is important to prevent excessive light contrasts. Northern light and indirect light are therefore essential, and in Puerto Venecia this was realised through sculptural light wells and corrugated glass façade surfaces on the north side. For these elements, the choice of window and door frames was clearly very important so as to guarantee the open feel of the interior.
For this reason, Reynaers CW 50 profiles were used for the large façade surfaces of the different curtain walls, such as the striking undulating roof of the main gallery in the northern flank of the complex. This visuallyprominent architectural structure naturally required a solution that would minimise aesthetic disruption of the underlying glass surface where the supporting columns coincide with the frames and where the automatically opening windows were to be located. The narrow CW 50 profiles and the large window dimensions work together to create the illusion from the inside that the roof is floating above the clouds drifting by outside. From the outside this building defines the Puerto Venecia skyline and attains a scale that makes it part of the landscape. The slender lines of the frames disappear completely in the reflected sky, partly because the façade is slightly tilted. These aspects reinforce the sculptural quality of this façade.
Points of light
In the south-east wing of the complex is a block with another indoor street where bringing in natural light has once again served as a leitmotif for the interior design. Here, however, a series of square light wells are integrated into a flat roof. They are painted red-orange outside and white inside to maximise reflected sunlight. For days with less sun and evenings, the design includes dozens of small electric lights so these elements can also function as oversized lamps. At the top of these wells, Reynaers CW 50 profiles have again been used and here they promote the sense of uninterrupted contact with the outside, yet in this part of the complex the objective is daylight and not panoramic views.
Those views and the contact with the central outdoor space, the lagoon, are recurring themes found elsewhere in the building, and there, too, Reynaers frames are present, integrated into the clean-lined window surfaces. There, with their naturally anodised look colour (RAL 9006), they reinforce the modern character of the complex yet again. Moreover, they contribute to the fact that despite its fragmented make up and the diverse architectural expressions of its individual parts, the overall concept behind this immense shopping centre always remains clear for the visitor.
- L35 Architects
- Acieroid SA
- Marçal Font
- Eurofund Investments Zaragoza SL (General contractor)