The Alhambra palace and fortress in Granada, with its mesmerizing series of courtyards, gardens and vistas that turn light and shadow into toys, may be the Moors’ crowning achievement. But the world heritage site has become so popular, visitors must wait hours just to get inside. Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza hopes to change that.
Siza has been visiting Alhambra since he was a youngster and developed a lifelong fascination with the place. In addition to the remarkable architecture set high on a hill overlooking the Andalusian city, the architect seeks to emulate the light and shadow play evident throughout the palace.
Over the years he has compiled various sketches, models, drawings and photographs of the palace (we have a few too from a fairly recent visit – see those here.) This collection, along with renders of a new entrance gate and visitor center, called “Visions of the Alhambra” will soon be on display in Berlin.
In addition to showcasing Siza’s lifelong devotion to the magnificent Moorish design, the exhibition will present a new way to visit the site. At is it currently set up, it’s difficult to know where to enter, and visitors – up to 8,000 per day, must stand in two long lines: first to get tickets (which are allocated in certain time slots) and then to actually get into the building.
Siza aims to improve this system with a new entrance gate that will be partially buried to reveal the scale of the architecture, as Designboom puts it, through “spatial sequencing and topographical systemization.”
Light wells placed throughout will ensure plenty of natural light reaches most areas, though – in keeping with the Alhambra’s playful lighting – they will not flood the building. Instead, visitors will be introduced to areas of partial shade and partial light and near complete light or darkness, to authenticate the preview experience as much as possible.
After proceeding through the new entrance center, visitors will come upon a courtyard outside which then leads to an auditorium and a central plaza, where water is channeled “in a continuous cycle of repetition.”
Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin and the Council of the Alhambra & Generalife will present the exhibition at Aedes Pfefferberg in Berlin between March 22 and May 8, 2014; thereafter, it will be permanently displayed the heritage site starting in Spring 2015.
Images © Álvaro Siza Vieira + Juan Domingo Santos / 3D rendering – LT studios