This commission evolved out of the Plaza de España refurbishment project, where the Santa Maria Church at its head and Alcoy Town Hall set distinctively within its continuous, defining facades. Although the plaza is traditionally used for festivals and community events, the Town Hall is lacked of suitable space for assemblies. The community, through the Instituto Valenciano de Vivienda, proposed to construct a multi-purpose public hall below the plaza. Built to accomodate approximately 600 people with service areas and storage facilities, the community hall can be used for all kinds of cultural and social events, including exhibitions.
The hall is a 90-meter long and nine-meter high single space on a trapezoidal plan and range between seven and 16-meter wide. The primary support structure of the roof is a concrete arch, which straddles the space in a single span at the hall's narrowest point. The curve of this arch is repeated throughout like a mirrored, radially organized progression. Because the springing points must straddle the increasing width, the directrix of the unresolved, symmetrical arch pairs creates a corresponding marked valley along the longitudinal axis, which in turn cradles a longitudinal supporting arch springing from the east-end. Between the ribs, translucent glass panels mounted in stainless-steel frames transmit the fall of daylight and emphasize the rhythm of the structure. When the hall is in use at night, a gentle glow emanates from below.
The hall has an entrance at each end and is directly connected to the Town Hall. The western entrance, accessed from the plaza, is set below grade and protected by a stainless-steel pentagonal grid of slats, which are flush with the plaza surface when closed. When raised, the grid-like door structure forms a rectangle, which sculpturally defines the entrance cavity and reveals the stairs. At the east end of the plaza, the entrance is marked by a fountain, which arises from a circular pool. Because festivities can attract large gatherings, the pool has been conceived with a mechanical cover, whose metal grid can be closed to form a secure surface for pedestrians. The entrance from the pavement leads down beneath the basin of the pool and into the hall. To transform the plaza, Calatrava designed a strongly ordered paving system with alternating granite slabs and glass panels, new surface treatments, urban furniture, new lighting and other installations, resulting in a new setting for the plaza's historic buildings.
1992 - 1995
Plaza de España
03801 Alcoy (Alicante)