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MUSEUM OF HUMAN EVOLUTION IN BURGOS. A RUPTURE OF THE HARMONIC DIMENSIONS OF THE CITY.

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I introduce myself. My name is Alberto Rodríguez and I’m not from Burgos. I am from Madrid, so this article doesn’t have the sentimental component it would have if I were born there. Anyway, I’m going to talk about Burgos, and more specifically, I’m going to talk about the Human Evolution Museum, which was inaugurated in the city.

The main reason of the writing of this post is just a visit I made to Burgos a few months ago. After having a walk across the streets and admiring its wonderful gothic cathedral, I decided to go up to the castle viewpoint. Getting to the viewpoint just takes 15 o 20 minutes walking from de cathedral’s square. The views of the city are insuperables.

The first thing you can see from there are the needles situated on the top of the cathedral’s towers, typical of the flamboyant gothic and the dome of the catedral too. Around the cathedral there are the other buildings of the city and the irregular streets that conects the buildings with each others. At the bottom of the view there are the residential blocks. In general, it has a little bit of harmony in the urban plan.

But there is something that breaks this harmony and damages the view, certainly, when someone see de Human Evolution Museum, he or she may think: “Who is the person that have made this thing here?”.

The building was designed by the architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg, he tried to modernize the city, but the real fact he did is to descontextualize a huge amount of urban ground surface. Looking from the viewpoint you can see a building completely glazed and with a height clearly superior to the rest of the adjoining buildings that disfigures the landscape image that can be taken of the city.

The idea of ​​building a glass facade was to make the museum brighter and create a sense of openness to the society, although it is achieved, it is also important to take into account what is seen from outside. The museum does not stop being a disproportionate cube that stands out on all sides.

The building was built with an overhang of 5 meters trying to play with the idea that you enter the Sierra de Atapuerca but what it actually achieves is to increase the size of the structure so from the viewpoint nobody would think that the big glass box is the Sierra de Atapuerca, you can only see a building of 30 meters high with a 60×90 meter plant.

The website of the museum includes the words spoken by the architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg: “In the complex, evolution is interpreted as something that has to go intimately incorporated with the territory, the soil, the geological strata and nature in general, which is the frame of reference of all life and the depository of information, containing a knowledge that must be literally excavated.

Well, analyzing those words, it is much more shocking the fact of building the project. It can be affirmed that is not incorporated to the territory, neither to the soil and much less to the geological strata. Just with a look, everyone can see that the scale of the building does not keep relation with the rest of the buildings which form the urban plot of the city. The disproportion of it is obvious. Perhaps, a dialogue between the technical experts and the stakeholders that focus on the interests of society had never existed. The correct integration of the museum in Burgos could be get by the reduction of the building’s volume, making it smaller and less compact.

A good example of integration in the city talking about the scale and the volumen is the case of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. The work of the architect Rafael Moneo respects the urban plan of the city, taking care of harmony and architectural beauty.

To conclude I want to clarify that everything previously written is just a personal opinion, I do not try to discredit the city of Burgos, which of course is a magnificent city, I simply try to explain the disappointment I felt when I saw the construction from the viewpoint of the castle.

Alberto Rodríguez Soto.

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