Caja General de Ahorros de Granada and Museum of Andalusia

Carretera de Motril & Avenida de la Ciencia, 2

Granada

Spain

 

Alberto Campo Baeza 2001 and 2009

 

Construction of the headquarters of the Caja General de Ahorros de Granada, a local savings bank, resulted from an architectural competition held in 1992 and won by the Madrid-based architect and professor Alberto Campo Baeza. The building is a massive cubic volume, 33 meters in size made out of concrete and stone and situated on a concrete plinth.

 

 

Besides ample office space, there is an eight-story atrium dramatically structured by four monumental columns of three meters in diameter. The dimensions are colossal, but are successfully concealed from the outside by means of a large concrete grid façade that works as a brise-soleil and strongly defines the exterior image of the building.

 

 

The atrium, which Campo Baeza calls “an impluvium of light” is illuminated by large skylights. The skylights collect the bright Andalusian sunlight in a manner reminiscent of the old Roman impluviums which collected rainwater. Two beautifully alabaster-clad atrium walls help to filter horizontal natural light, and along with the impluviums are another direct reference to the rich architectural heritage of Roman Spain. Other images that the architect kept in mind when designing the building were the Cathedral of Granada and the Daily Mirror building in London built by Owen Williams, which influenced the Caja’s atmosphere for their masterful control of light and monumental scale.

 

 

The new Museum of Andalusia, one block north of this memorable building, was designed and built by Campo Baeza for the bank’s cultural foundation almost 10 years after finishing the bank building. This edifice shares with the bank’s headquarters the concept of a large plinth but the design strategy here was to excavate it rather than to build on top of it. A three-story subterranean building with an open central space is the main feature of the museum. This open space is an oval courtyard with two spiral circulation ramps connecting the three levels of the museum.

 

The formal solution of this space resembles Lubetkin & Tecton’s famous penguin pool at London Zoo, designed in 1934, but also resembles Granada’s magnificent Charles V Palace with the circular form of its open courtyard. At the north end of the lot, very visible from the A44 freeway, rises an eight-story administrative building tower that connects visually with the big cube of the bank by shared height, width and concrete material. With this last structure the architect negotiates a sense of unity between both buildings, the bank and the museum.

 

Rafael Cazorla 2009

 


How to visit

 

Both buildings are located in the south district of Granada, near the freeway A44. If you drive A44 south take Carretera de Motril exit and keep going north just a few blocks.

 

The bank building is open only for visitors who hold visit reservations. To reserve, email unidad6203@caja-granada.es at least 24 hours in advance, and include the day and time of the planned visit (the office is open daily 9am to 1pm), and names and passport numbers of visitors.

 

The museum is open to the public 10am to 8pm Tuesday to Saturday and 10am to 2pm Sunday. Tickets are available through acentrocultural@fundacioncajagranada.es or by calling +34 902 100 095.

 

You can see the inside of the bank in a YouTube video.

 

 

 

 

 

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