Leaving Vigo’s city center behind, at approximately 12 kilometers, going up to the mountain, we find a place that always surprises first time visitors. On the way it is possible that the sprawl of houses and little industrial premises appear as a never ending fabric, until we start the way up. There is a point when we see the end of the buildings and at that moment we have arrived at the University Campus, an ongoing development started in the 90’s. Far from being a plain series of single buildings, it still works as a mountain.
Inhabiting a mountain
Nature here is powerful: a hill facing the surrounding mountains, looking over the valley and even the peaks of the Portuguese mountains, a complex strong topography battered by the hard climate of the area. The earliest buildings sprung as pieces sprawled over the land, which remains untouched. This respectful approach will be applied in the following buildings. Since the very beginning the choice for the architects is done carefully, therefore all the faculties, research centers, student halls, sport and services facilities are an outstanding selection of high quality architecture. Alfonso Penela, Alberto Noguerol, Pilar Díez and César Portela are some of the architects whose buildings create an especially interesting architectural tour.
A built itinerary
The key to imagine what this architectural tour offers lies on the works by Enric Miralles y Benedetta Tagliabue (Estudio EMBT), who, with their characteristic calligraphic and topographic stroke, started the connecting process of the previous and future buildings. Their lecture building (2003) and the rector’s offices building (2006) are settled in the higher level of the hill and generate a sequence of interior and exterior spaces: a vast balcony overlooking the landscape.
From there we cross a series of bridges towards the roof of the library and then we continue to other faculties. An architectonic itinerary that goes 125 meters downhill though bridges, arcades, balconies, squares and green amphitheaters. With impressive views as a permanent background, GA Santiago suggests a tour around the most interesting spaces of the vast collection of buildings and the mixture of interior-exterior, contemporary materials with land and water, and the buildings with the mountain.
Text by: Camino Vilanova Rodríguez, GA Santiago.
Top Image: Student Hall “O Castro”, by Alfonso Penela, 2002, at the University Campus in Vigo. Copyright: GA Santiago.