PLANTA, building in Lleida, España

Located in the quarry “La Plana del Corb” close to Balaguer (Lleida, Spain), PLANTA is a building designed by KAAN Architecten for Fundació Sorigué that has been officially presented at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice as part of the Collateral Event and the installation curated by the Dutch office DOMAIN.

The Conservatorio di Musica “Benedetto Marcello” di Venezia houses three main interventions, comprising works of Armin Linke, Giuseppe Ielasi, Renato Rinaldi, and the 1:100 model of KAAN Architecten’s design of PLANTA made by Vincent de Rijk and DOMAIN inserted into a 15m long plinth representing an abstract section of the quarry, hand sculpted using sand and aggregates extracted from the very ground the building will soon occupy.

PLANTA is located in the Menárguens’ quarry. Following the contours of the hills which define the boundary between the higher excavation plateaus, called El Corb, which is a plateau of sediment brought by the rivers El Segre and La Noguera Ribargorçana. To the East side is the lower agricultural landscape flourishing at the bed of El
Segre. The site can be reached via the N12, which lies at lowest edge of the hill, leading from Lleida to Balaguer parallel to El Corb and onwards to the Pyrenees. With its dimensions of 205 meters by average 52 meters PLANTA provides for a 12.000 m2 platform.

The building is not simply integrated into the landscape: the Platform is landscape. The roof, which provides the horizontal stability for the site and platform, allows one to privately observe, the intimate yet aggressively brutal process of the quarry.

Initially the project was planned to be in Lleida, at that moment the Fundació Sorigué’s primary focus was to provide an art educational program to facilitate an interaction with the residents of Lleida. This intent has not be forgotten. Relocating the collection of Sorigué to Menárguens has allowed the foundation to expand its original ambition, and to incorporate multiple ambitions for the Fundació Sorigué as well as new opportunity afforded by the consolidation of resources, staff, and most importantly…the abundance of space…

PLANTA’s redefined concept and ambitions has evolved from a sometime tenuous dialogue between Fundació Sorigué, representatives of the company Sorigué, architects, advisors and artists…the ‘quarry-move’ liberated the team from conventional and predictable solutions and forced each member to question elements which we unknowingly take to be true…in the relocation each team was removed from its professional ‘comfort zone’, and demanded an approach that eliminated preconceived divisions, strategies and solutions.

The relocation of the Foundation to Menárguens allows for the dynamic confluence of company’s diverse activities: excavation, research, production, and agricultural production. Though radically different with regards to efforts and mediums, each industry is guided with Sorigué’s consistent and holistic vision to its environment, family, and workers. This vision has helped the family establish their art collection, and will guide the foundation as its collection is renewed and expanded.

Liberated from institutional demands of the contemporary gallery and museum, the Sorigué Foundation can simply be a building dedicated to obsession: manufacturing, landscape, heritage, mining, agriculture and most importantly a collection that was curated from joy and love. Acting as permanent horizon in a quarry, which is in permanent flux, the foundation via insertion will provide a fixed datum in an environment of instability and as well as a mechanism for one to observe a families’ dedicated obsession to beauty.

The platform consists of three programmatic blocks: the visitor entrance and warehouse; collection hall; staff/VIP entrance. The collection hall negotiates the two programmatic ends. Strategically placed between the two, allows for multiple entrance and routes of various and discrete circulation routes.

Circulation can be efficient and direct – for larger guided groups – or meandering and personal. The large hall provides an overview, yet at the same time an ability to accommodate a series of smaller conditions that allow for individual discovery and focus regardless of the chosen larger picture. PLANTA turns the necessity of a narrative into the choice for one.

By allowing the viewer to be productively lost within the collection, we break apart the seemingly coherent viewing of prescribed curating as a single coherent element, but rather one composed of a variety of perspective. Eliminating the frame… Simultaneously, the prospect of providing the efficient and fulfilling experience for the visitor with limited time is considered. Although every object precious in its own right, several pieces can be considered the most important within the foundation. These objects will be tactically located throughout the platform, which can be observed with a direct circulation path, allowing one an immediate path to the collection ‘icons’ while still experience the platform and its relation to the landscape.

The collection space is subdivided into three Blocks, each with a specific theme – ‘New Media’, ‘The Body’, and ‘Anselm Kiefer’. Within the blocks, ‘grey’ and ‘black’ rooms are excavated to create ‘curiosity rooms’; rooms, which corrupt the purity of the blocks, via material and scale, while also providing respites from the collection – a room to contemplate, rest, or perhaps transcend from the physical ‘moment’. A primary circulation route negotiates one through the topography of the site while simultaneously moving one through the collection; a continuous yet subtle path guides the viewer through the Blocks as if it were one unified space. However, unexpected shortcuts, cut alleys, puncture the main walls of the Blocks allowing for ‘spontaneous’ paths; each viewer could curate their circulation through the collection.

The seamless passage between the Blocks, curiosity rooms, and cut alleys is negotiated via thresholds; the sheer mass and depth of the Block’s walls, 2.7 meters, transform a simple passage into a room, which does not just function as a door from one room to another, but a physical space in and of itself, serving as a spatial transition between conflicting worlds, i.e. Blocks, curiosity rooms, and cut alleys.

Nolli’s map of Rome illustrated the city as a dichotomy between black and white: “black spaces” are the “secret spaces” of the city, and the “white spaces” are the public spaces. The dichotomy is a result of the reduction of “black spaces” to expose “white spaces”, thus the absence of one creates the other. Black spaces are specific and
private; white are public and generic space. The elements which define the rooms of PLANTA could be compared to this process; excavation of a large volume to reveal “white space”, which create the main rooms and circulation, which are organically lost within “black space”.

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