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A clear talking point

by TERESA CHOW on Oct 21, 2011 in Architecture , Lifestyle
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Contrast, contradiction or complementary – whatever your view is, there is no denying that the new glass addition at Palace Aiete commands your attention

More than 20 years ago, IM Pei’s controversial glass pyramids were unveiled at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1988. Erected in the main courtyard, the pyramids are large glass and metal structures, departing from the rectangular, Renaissance structure of the Louvre. Pei was accused of defacing the value of the original architecture, and such was the strength of feeling against his ultra-modern design that it took many years before the pyramids were recognised for their true artistry and beauty.

Today, the idea of mixing historic and modern architecture is more widely accepted, thanks in no small part to Pei’s groundbreaking work, which paved the way for other designers after him. This is abundantly clear in the completion of a complex programme in San Sebastian, Span, which includes a cultural centre and the House of Peace and Human Rights.

Located in the monumental Aiete Park, the developments have been warmly received by the 21st century architectural world. Half-buried, half-emerging from the grass lawn, the glass structure somehow manages to sit comfortably and harmoniously in its environment, surrounded by green grass in front of it and the stately Palace Aiete to its rear.

Initiated by the town council and overseen by local architectural office Isuuru Arquitectos, the aim was to rehabilitate Palace Aiete, built by the dukes of Bailen in 1878.

Lead by architects Aitzpea Lazkano Orbegozo and Carlos Abadías Banzo, the fundamental core of the project was to find a balance between the programme needs and the possibilities of the palace’s structure, and focused on providing a balance that would maintain the essential nature of the pre-existing space and structures. As the original palace had made a distinction between its main floors and the service areas early on, the architects decided the project has to adapt to that structure. 

 Read the full story in the November 2011 issue of Perspective magazine!

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