Krea Cultural centre, Vitoria (Spain)


Krea Cultural centre, Vitoria (Spain)

One should not be misled by the severe Gothic appearance of the Betoño convent: this religious establishment was not founded in the Middle Ages, but at the beginning of the 20th century. 







Architect: Roberto Ercilla Arquitectura, Contractor: Bilca
Technique: VMZINC® Standing seam, Surface aspect: QUARTZ-ZINC®


In 1905, the Carmelite nuns who had been evicted from their convent in Toulouse moved into this neo-Gothic complex designed for them by architect Marcial Dagorette. Legend has it that the ex-consul of Spain in Toulouse left his fortune to this operation, which he funded entirely. He was embalmed and buried in the monastery. The Carmelites left the premises in 1999 and the last nuns definitively left in 2007. It was then that the perimeter walls that isolated the religious centre from the rest of the town were torn down to make way for the construction of an ambitious cultural centre including workshops, a library, a laboratory, a recording studio and artists’ residences.

Architects Roberto Ercilla and Miguel Angel Campo won the competition with a project resolutely and bluntly confronting the Gothic and the modern. They completely reorganised the layout inside the old building.  The convent is accessed via a long pathway winding through a large glass corridor. An initial sequence guides the visitor from the street to a small tower, leading to a footbridge that crosses the cloister, which was transformed into a library that visitors can access after descending from one last tower. Despite its surprising form, the crystalline extension designed by Ercilla and Campo respects the existing building, only occupying hollow spaces. It creates a link between the environment, an industrial zone that gradually replaced the countryside of this municipality located next to Vittoria-Gasteiz. 


Zinc covers the roofs of the old parts of the building. The architects designed a broken roof, a clever element making it possible to create high ceilings allowing attic spaces to be created. The material connects the various parts of the convent. The vertical installation of the lower slopes increases the surface of the facades, giving balance to the relationship between the openings and the wall. Completed in 2011, the paradox is that the centre was never used. Having considered converting it into a university, it may finally be used, as initially intended, for an arts centre.