Málaga – “City of Paradise”, as the Spanish Nobel prize winner Vicente Aleixandre called it – in Spain’s wildly romantic southern region of Andalusia is a city of ultimate modernity, yet lavishly steeped in rich tradition. As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, it has been an inspiration for many an artist: Salvador Dalí loved this magical city, as did the poets Hans Christian Andersen, Gerald Brenan or Federico García Lorca.
To this day, it is a confluence of urban architecture from many different centuries. With a population of around 600,000, Málaga is Spain’s sixth largest city, and an important and lively center of business and culture. No wonder, then, that the city is applying for the title of “European Capital of Culture“ in 2016, when it will be Spain’s turn to host the event.
Trend-setting civic center
An important milestone en route to this nomination is the new construction of the Málaga regional government’s administrative building. A complex administrative center was added to the former asylum “Hogar Nuestra Señora de la Victoria“ from the 17th century which had been transformed in the 1980’s by the architect Luis Machuca Santa-Cruz into a cultural center, the Centro Cívico. In reduced architectural design, a stretched, horizontally arranged block with over 38,000 square meters floor space was built behind the cultural center. The size of the complex corresponds to the dimensions of the cultural center and to neighboring industrial buildings. At the same time it also opens up the recently refurbished waterside promenade for the southern quarter of Málaga, which lies behind the building. The link between the cultural center and the council hall, rooms for conferences and representative events and the administrative wing is an event hall accommodated in a separate building. This hall has an auditorium which can seat up to 460. The whole complex is rounded off by just under 400 one- and two-room apartments for students.
The complete cladding of this huge building complex in a shimmering metallic external shell of stainless steel wire mesh transforms the Diputación de Málaga into an imposing monolith, visible from afar, which changes its appearance as the light conditions change. The textile-like mesh structure reflects its environment, from monochrome gray in the early morning light to cool silver at midday and warm gold-orange at sunset. Thanks to this visual versatility of the stainless steel wire mesh type Omega 3320 by GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG, the administrative building is forever being put in a new light. The façade, with a total surface area of 16,000 square meters, has the effect of a magical veil. During daylight, it reflects ever-changing images of its surroundings and conceals what is going on behind it. At night, when the rooms inside are lit, it seems almost completely transparent. But apart from its outstanding aesthetic qualities, the functional properties of the mesh were also main reasons for choosing it for this application. As reliable sun protection with climate control capabilities, the material ensures a pleasant room climate in the long, strung-out low-rise without restricting the view out. In view of the enormous surface area to be clad, the material’s practically unlimited service life, low maintenance requirements and extreme weather resistance were also major arguments for this robust mesh façade. In addition, attachment using round profiles inserted into the mesh, a technique already proven in a range of projects, made it possible to install the elements in just seven months.
Málaga was discovered by the Phoenicians, settled by the major civilisations of the Mediterranean and shaped by all their cultures. To this day, the distinctive feature of this city remains its unbroken, pulsating creative spirit. Creating a harmony here of trend-setting architecture, aesthetics, tradition and sustainability while meeting the demands of modern facility management is an important step into the future – en route to becoming the Capital of Culture 2016.