Zaida Building and Courtyard House

Acera del Darro 1




Alvaro Siza Vieira with Juan Domingo Santos 1993-2006


The Zaida Building is at the southern end of a19th-century city block in the Spanish city of Granada, facing the Plaza Puerta Real (also known as Fuente de las Batallas). The new building takes its name from the old Zaida Building that once existed on the same site.



This project was developed by taking over three separate but adjacent lots; one of them was an old courtyard house built in a typical Andalusian style around two patios. Although its façade has been changed to better integrate it into the overall building layout, this existing older building has been preserved. According to architect Alvaro Siza, the building’s location on the city’s important Plaza Puerta Real demanded the provision of a more prominent architectural presence as well as a more appropriate urban scale concordant with the surrounding edifices (six-story height). All these conditions and requirements were added to the development of a complex and difficult project due to the programs required by different owners. Siza was able to sort through these conflicting forces and to design a building with a strong image and physical presence, whose final shape contains clear historic references to the volumes in the Islamic quarters of Granada but also to the Rodriguez Acosta Foundation Building, one of Granada’s well-known and cherished local institutions.



Materials are limited to local calcareous gray stone up to the top of the third floor, with white-painted stucco above that. The lower stone base on the Courtyard House was designed to emphasize the smaller-scale vertical dimension and to visually compensate for the different building sizes.



Rafael Cazorla 2009


How to visit


The building is located in La Virgen district, directly southwest of the Alhambra Palace C

complex. In recent years Granada has seen a shift in the city’s central hub form the Centro district to the Plaza Puerta Real as a result of urban changes to La Virgen district. The building is flanked in the north and south by two of the city’s most important thoroughfares: Acera del Darro and Carrera del Genil. There is an underground and rather limited parking garage at the Plaza, but public transportation is strongly recommended. Bus and taxi stops are conveniently located along the Acera del Darro side.


The building is mainly residential so access is largely restricted. Nonetheless, a branch of Caja Rural bank took over a large portion of the ground floor. The bank was furnished with pieces designed by Alvaro Siza and is quite visible from the street via numerous large windows. A local construction company headquarters occupies the Courtyard House and access is restricted here as well.







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