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Centro Botín

The gallery’s two volumes are clad with an intricate ceramic skin reflecting the shifting colours of the sky and the sea


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Renzo Piano has completed his first Spanish building; a bold new art museum on the waterfront of Santander.

Designed in collaboration with Luis Vidal Architects, Centro Botín is formed of two dramatic volumes that cantilever over the sea. A ceramic skin composed of 270,000 circular pieces reflects light and the changing colours of the sky and the water below. The west of the museum is dedicated to art and the east to cultural and educational activities.

Together the 10,285sq m complex features two large exhibition halls, an auditorium for 300 people, training classrooms, workshop areas, a roof terrace and a seafood tavern run by Michelin star chef Jesús Sánchez.

Two squares to the north and west of the building provide new areas of public realm, with the latter forming an outdoor amphitheatre for cultural activities.

The site is located in Santander’s historic Jardines de Pereda, which has been remodeled and expanded by Piano and landscape architect Fernando Caruncho – tripling the green areas so they reach all the way to the sea. Artist Cristina Iglesias has created a stone, steel and water ‘sculptural intervention’ here called From the Underground – consisting of four wells and a pool filled with underwater flora.

Centro Botín is run by the Botín Foundation, which promotes regional social development. Director general Inigo Sáenz de Miera described the facility as “a unique place for art, and an engine generating economic, social and cultural wealth.”

Three big shows are scheduled this year, including a first in Spain for artist Carsten Höller and a Francisco Goya exhibition.

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