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Peter Eisenman: City of Culture

by Max Gold in Culture on 08 September 2008

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If one were to gaze off into the ancient hills of Santiago de Compostela, their eye might be snared on a large interruption. Architect Peter Eisenman's brand-new City of Culture complex is currently in the heat of construction and sticks out like a sore thumb. However, if completed as planned, the City of Culture should do anything but catch the eye. This is because Eisenman hopes to make his complex invisible.

The City of Culture complex will be one million square feet and contain six new buildings, including a Museum of Galician History, a brand new Library and a Music Theater. The idea is to articulate Santiago's medieval roots through futurist architecture. Eisenman has incorporated masonry techniques used at the time when the old city of Santiago was constructed, along with all local stone in order to give the complex a face that blends in with the rest of the structures in the ancient city. But he doesn't stop there.

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To create the building's natural and unique shape along the hillside, Eisenmen traced the contours of the five primary pilgrimage routes that lead to Santiago, and then applied their shape to the topography of the hillside. The effect is that the City of Culture looks as though it is part of the hillside, rippling from it like a natural feature of the landscape.

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Through the marriage of ancient architectural technique with natural inspiration from the unique landscape, this complex will be a true child of Galicia.

Even more so, perhaps, than its old and gray great-grandfather, la Catedral de Santiago. It should be noted that The City of Culture, along with other new innovations such as Festival dos Abrazos, is an effort on the part of Galicia's ministry of tourism to create a more modern face for their ancient city. Estimated completion date: 2012.

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