C L O S E   E N C O U N T E R 

Close Encounter – Meetings with Remarkable Buildings: 

El Girasol; Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

GKMP Architects were invited to participate in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2018 curated by Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects. 16 Irish practices were asked to study a seminal project and to repesent it as part of ‘Close Encounter – Meetings with Remarkable Projects’ exhibition. This installation explores  ‘El Girasol’ an apartment building in Madrid designed by José Antonio Coderch.

El Girasol or ‘The Sunflower’ embodies the Freespace qualities of emphasising “nature’s free gifts of light- sunlight and moonlight, air, gravity, materials- natural and man-made resources.” 

The building turns at an angle to the Madrid street to receive the afternoon sun deep into the plan.  It is made of thin lines of steel structure, sinuous lines of terracotta tiled walls, shimmering vertical lines of teak shutters.  The lines vary in thickness and density to hold space and give different degrees of transparency and privacy.  The tiled walls seem to defy gravity and hang above the street.

The installation comprises a stepped platform and two sinuous screens that together evoke the deep threshold space of the Girasol. This space allows the dwellers to be in the city and secluded at the same time.  The layers of lines between inside and outside create a sense of a “half-open organism” as Saenz de Oiza described it.

On approach through the galleries of the Central Pavilion the curved screens present a closed enigmatic boundary that evokes the urban presence of the building. The visitor passes behind these, turns and steps up into a small room held by the curved screens and by a series of staggered transparent screens that rise from the platform.  It sets up diagonal views back out to the gallery space.

Return to Public Building


Photos by Ste Murray

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