Incorporated into a determinant plot of the local identity, Rafael Moneo‘s intervention for the town hall of Murcia achieves his contextual agreement by means of the observance of the protagonism of the buildings that compose the historical heart of the city up to reaching a complementación without fractures.
The Moneo´s operation around it is focused in heightening the existing architectures, developing a concept that does not try to impose the superiority of a building on other one, but he explores the relation between both expressing a commitment of tacit conformity.
The new building of the Town hall occupies a key place in the Plaza Belluga. It faces the Cathedral of Murcia, a building designed by Jaime Bort and constructed between 1737 and 1764, which it is a carrier of a front of exuberant baroque character articulated like an altarpiece with big Corinthian columns to generate movement across the shades. The cathedral and the town hall represent the former one and the new civil power. Both occupy opposite ends of a square that offers four fronts of different character.
Moneo proposes a building virtually generated from the idea of front, which is established depending on the visual enmarcación of the existing architectures and the way of relating to the historical center, but that also expresses the dignity of the institution.1
From the square, the volume is understood as a strict regular prism that moves back in his area to facilitate the connection of the streets with the square. But it does not open towards her, but to a sunked court that one finds in the right side in a gesture that it seems to avoid to enter in competition with the cathedral.
The front is necessary like to see the city from the building. It preserves an idea renewed of altarpiece but established like screen, to facilitate the contemplation of the historical facts placed in the sequence of vain, happening allegories that split the history of the architecture.
The plane of front has the character of a wall, a profile favored by the sedimentary texture and the yellow fossil color of Hellín’s stones. In his grafía it assumes a classic character on having adopted the tripartite concept of a dense basement, an articulated development and a light auction.
Avoiding an abstract grafía, the prevalencia of the uprightness meets balanced by the asymmetric progression of rectangles of different broad between of girders of reinforced concrete that frame in the front a succession of horizontal bands.
These perforations grant a tensed dynamics produced by the joint of lights and shades, in a pace that remembers the ethereal character of the colonnades of the Roman theatres and to the Danteum de Terragni.
The size of the openings is conceived for teatralizar the historical monuments that it has around, by means of the rhythmic one the ondulatories recall designed by Le Corbusier and Xenakis in La Tourette.2
The balcony adopts a determinant character in the front. Symbol of the civic power, it is located to the same height that the principal floor of the palace of the cardinal, and in his large window the silhouette of the cathedral meets reflected. Later, when it receives the order of re-paving the square it completes the contextual work putting in a plane of equality the totality of the buildings of the square.3
Moneo puts attention in the urban space without obviating the representative character of his building, for the one that assumes spectator’s role that does not darken the protagonism of the rest of the buildings. His work is supported in the traditional schemes of the architectural trade, happening a distinctive procedure that does not understand the context as a perfect event, but as an event that needs a particular interpretation.
Marcelo Gardinetti. Architect
La Plata, Argentina. december 2015
1. “I like to be employed at cities with own character, without importing the size. The Town hall of Murcia is virtually generated from the idea of front. The design of a beautiful front is a task that more puts in test an architect ….. This front needed to express the dignity of the institution and there to arrange a principal balcony from which the authorities appear to the square to the same level that the balcony of the palace of the cardinal”. Rafael Moneo, Elogio de la luz
2. “In the low floor, the room of seminars has glass cloths in the whole exterior surface, divided by vertical amounts of concrete that follow a sequence designed by Xenakis. This modulation that comes from the modulor and from musical paces, in the fixed cloths is named “ondulatories”, and in the mobiles “aérateurs”. Marcelo Gardinetti, Los atributos de La Tourette.
2. “Designing the soil I remembered the learned in the squares of Italy; a good Piazza is rarely flat, avoids always the strict horizontalidad”. Rafael Moneo, Elogio de la luz.