Peter Eisenman’s project, the City of Culture, is located in an autonomous community in the northwestern region of Spain, called Galicia. It is also the final destination of the famous pilgrimage called The Way of St. James, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is a quiet, misty hill town in the morning, and busy, sun-blasted community in the afternoon. This commission calls for a design which reflects the culture of the place with its vacillating climactic conditions, dynamic topography, and a rich historical presence since it has accommodated pedestrian travel for over hundreds of years.
Eisenman Architects has designed a building unlike anything I have ever seen while still maintaining their signature complexities - as seen in the devout implementation of an overarching thesis and yet a sensitivity toward the community. One way that the building responds to the activities of the city is by embracing the pedestrian traffic in a formal manner such that the terrain of the site becomes a volumetric component of the building with walkable roofs.
The shifting scale of the building is unified through the underlying grid which relates to certain systems within the building. For instance, the 8 x 8 meter grid provides a framework for its primary structure and spacial organization, the 4 x 4 meter grid provides the framework for the secondary structure and interior functions, and finally, the 2 x 2 grid provides the framework for the fenestration and mullions. While the idea of numerous grids seem rigid, they are arranged, skewed and warped in ways that produce spaces which seem whimsical and alive with constant juxtaposition.