The rehabilitation of the old military barracks of the Loma del Puerco on the Chiclana de la Frontera coast to a public restaurant and exhibition space. The existing site is a privileged enclave for various aspects: a unique natural environment crowning the hillside of the Loma del Puerco with the Barrosa beach below; a recognized historical site of the Battle of Chiclana (5th of March 1811) one of the most relevant episodes of the War of Indepencein Spain; a few meters from the barracks is the Torre del Puerco, a 16th century military watchtower used to guard the coast and prevent Berber attacks now converted into an observation point for migratory birds such as Spoonbills (limes platalea) heading south along the coastline.
This strategic location is an ideal access point for the enjoyment of the watchtower and beach and an opportunity for a new welcome center for visitors who want to learn more about the ornithological richness of the area and the cultural historical importance of Chiclana. The orientation of the site is also ideal for observing the entire solar cycle during the day and a spectacular sunset. Aroadway accesses the buildings from the east and goes around the complex to snakedown to the beach on the west.
The approach from the motorway leads to the integrated parking on to the east façade, hidden from the beach. The parking lot is below the road “horizon” hiding it from view. The pedestrian access, far from the road, is a planned walking path with natural vegetation that blends it into the landscape as if it was always there. The change of use of a building required a complete rethinking of the spaces to adapt them to new life.
A series of improvements have been made in the distribution, both inside and outside, to make the most out of the existing conditions, enhance views, and allow the fluid use of the facilities by both visitors and staff. The El Cuartel Del Mar is made up of two long pavilions parallel to the beach. To the west is located the restaurant and kitchen.The east integrates the exhibition space and services for the entire complex. The two pavilions are accessed by the main entrance in the northern facade through a shared outdoor multifunctionalpatio, the backbone of the complex which provides the circulation/movement as well creating an indoor/outdoor relationship.
Visitor and staff spaces are organized for design efficiency;the reception is at the entrance of the restaurant “front-of-house” to accompany guests to their tables; the kitchen is situated “back-of-house” with its own unloading area; and services/changing roomshave separate access forvisitors and staff. The “wet” installations are grouped to maximize construction efficiency. The exhibition zone is enlarged and left open, flexible to adapt to leisure and cultural activities.
It is located in direct relation to the patio which can be used as an expansion of the exhibition space. The patio is protected from the sometimes windy condition of the coast, and can be used for a variety of functions (e.g. musical performances) or simply used as a rest area for visitors at the center. The new spiral stair provides access to the roof for bird watching, look out point (which on clear days permit views to Castle Sancti Petri about 10km away). The spiral ascension invites the visitor to see the complex from various points of views as one rises above the courtyard and discovers the horizon beyond.
New pergolas are introduced in strategic points, orienting the visitor towards the main areas, the bird watching station on the roof or the southeast terrace (one of the spaces with the best views) The rehabilitation of the building enhances what was already conserved, and brings it up to code in the most respectful and discreet way possible, again in a manner that makes it seem like it has always been there. Simple passive solar strategies like wood pergola additions provide solar protection, which filter natural light and control the solar incidence on the buildings and users, and the selection of light colors for the building envelope reduces overheating.
Respect for the environment is not only about enhancing the natural or historical value of the complex, but it also integrates the utilization of local constructive materials and techniques, traditionally usedand with a direct relation to craftsmanship, revaluing the uniqueness of place with a contemporary vision. Natural materials prevail, minimally treated so that their origin is clearly legible, creating a comfortable, informal, and fresh environment. It is committed to the Spanish product, enhancing the local and national dialogue/design.
All the facades and interior walls are of lime mortar in a light tone. Related to the image of traditional construction of Cadiz, this material is a breathable skin that protects and permits the building to breathe guaranteeing the physical and emotional wellbeing of its inhabitants. The roof is insulated and covered with gravel or continuous concrete pavers, again in light tones to protect from the sun and also to integrate with the landscape from above. For the same motives, vegetation at the roof and patio help reduce heat gain, and the selection of low maintenance native plants further links the project to its surroundings.
Gravel is introduced at the parking which provides for permeable water surface and forces slow car traffic while creating a more agreeable pedestrian experience. The wood carpentry for exterior doors and windows with high thermal and acoustic insulation performance was selected for its natural and warm material that creates more comfortable interiors. In addition, wood was chosen instead of metal for its improved resistance to the aggressive marine environment. Details of clay, stone, and reutilized elements are integrated which repeatedly link the historical context of the project.
Polished concrete floors in the interior lend a natural appearance and provide spacialcontinuity with the distribution of spaces, while never competing with the protagonism of theexterior views framed by the windows. The false ceiling made of wood and braided weaved cane replicate the exterior pergolas in a continuous interior-exterior-space game. The breezes from the cross ventilation between facades and the sound of the crashing ocean waves do the rest. Welcome to the El Cuartel del Mar, two steps from the beach!
1. SIMON - Electricity and lighting
2. TORINCO- Exterior wood carpentry - EUROTORR 68 SERIES
3. CUMEN - Wall coating - Lime mortar
4. GEOGRAVEL- Gravel floor (parking)
5. GROWREADY - Wooden boards for exterior bars