Water Museum by ABIBOO
Location: Zaragoza, Spain
Typology: Institutional, Cultural
The project for the Museum of Water evokes water through its print, strategies, and materials (including water), which are used to depict its grandiosity. The building incorporates local elements to showcase the need for sensitivity toward water and water use. The building is 50,000 Sq. Ft. (5,000 sq.m.), and is organized around eight volumes marked as if by water erosion.
The Water Museum project is part of a competition in Zaragoza. The site faces the Ebro River, which flows through the city. The project’s overall concept evokes the many characteristics of water through its footprints, strategies, and materials. The design references the element of water through its absence, like a steady stream erodes asymmetrical recesses in a grouping of boulders, creating an undulating organic shape.
The building incorporates local elements to show the need for greater awareness of water and its use. The materials chosen for the building’s skin references local manufacturing processes, such as clay, where water plays a fundamental role in its production.
The skin of the building is made of a clay-based material, in the manner of the unique Mudejar buildings of the area, with glazed brick latticework. The geometry of the building and its organic structures and materials alludes to the systems used by Antoni Gaudí, the famous 19th-century Spanish architect.
The project spreads over three levels. The lower level, the Plaza, is a covered outdoor area that relates to the riverbank. Access to the building is on the ground floor, and the Exhibition is on an elevated level. A third level provides space for future exhibitions, services, and administrative regions.
The volumes of the building contain spaces with different functions. The atrium has a helicoidal ascending ramp that leads to a reception hall and facilitates the circulation of the visitors. The pavilion‘s welcoming space with natural light streaming through lattices and skylights, whose shapes are based on the porous surfaces found in aquatic organisms such as sponges, corals, and algae. The other parts of the structure house exhibition areas, auditoriums, restaurants, offices, and logistics.
In articulating the main volumes, transitional spaces are created that allow light to pass through in the form of tanks with skylights, creating a caustic lighting effect at the Plaza. These tanks collect the rainwater until it spills over the building’s outer wall, staining its surface like a vertical river. The water inside these tanks can be seen from the building’s interior and the outside Plaza below. The experience of the water throughout the Exhibition creates a multisensory experience.