The Atrio Relais & Châteaux Hotel and Restaurant in Cáceres, by Mansilla + Tuñón, was shortlisted among the 40 project for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2015, and it won the BigMat ’13 Award Spain National Prize and Special Mention for Restoration of a Heritage Place. It is not the first time for the Madrid based firm, founded in Madrid in 1992 by Luis Moreno Mansilla (Madrid, 1959–2012) and Emilio Tuñón (Madrid, 1958), who in 2007 won the Mies van der Rohe Award with the MUSAC of León, perhaps their most famous work to date.
THE DOMESTICITY OF THE HERMIT CRAB
The new Atrio Relais-Châteaux, located at St Matthews Square in Caceres, attempts to think about the city according to the principles that made it possible in the first place. It tries to imagine how such a thing can be carried out in our time, enabling contemporary architecture to stand side by side with the historic core, with respect and dignity.
Inside the medieval precinct of the city of Caceres, the compound on which the new building has been erected was formed by to volumes deeply degraded after years of neglect. The new construction fits into these buildings like a hermit crab inside an empty seashell. Thus, the new use re-vitalizes and re-habilitates the life-less constructions establishing an organic symbiosis and acquiring a new meaning of contemporaneity.
What is truly important for us is to accept the fact that there is no such thing as the past or the future, but only our present, the present of our past and the present of our future. This delivers a way to understand contemporary architecture as a permanent oscillation between strategies for participation and strategies for environmental coexistence.
The project contains two complementary activities: the new Atrio restaurant and a small Relais Chateaux hotel with just fourteen rooms. The hotel reception, restaurant and kitchen areas are on the ground floor, with all the guest rooms on the upper floor. Circulation on these floors revolves around a small atrium that provides a complex scale, creating a connection to the traditional homes and palaces that populate this historic city. A discrete indoor recreational area above the first floor guest rooms opens onto the garden, with two small ponds at the rear.
The new functional organism attaches itself to the irregularities of the perimeter of existing buildings, and manifests itself on the outside in the leafy courtyard, by weaving a tapestry of slender pillars of white concrete, plemented with carpentry wood and bakelite.
Inside, under the furniture that lies down peacefully, the white-painted oak wood tries to unify the different areas of new construction; the black granite arranged like a wooden flooring builds the neutral plane of activity for the Hotel and the restaurant.
The different spaces are built as spaces of intimacy, furnished from a radical domesticity , opening their eyes discreetly on public spaces, the street, the atrium, the garden.
Project title: Hotel and Restaurant Atrio
Location: Cáceres, Spain
Office: Mansilla + Tuñón
Authors: Emilio Tuñón Álvarez, architect
Luis Moreno Mansilla, architect
Carlos Martínez de Albornoz, architect
Fernando Benito, quantity surveyor
JG Ingenieros, engineering
Gogaite S.L., engineering
Type of work: Private
Photographs: Luis Asín
News source: Divisare
Image credits: Luis Asin