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Madinat Al Zahra Museum

Cordoba, Spain
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This new museum, interpretation and research centre was designed by the Madrid-based partnership of Nieto Sobejano. The practice originally won a competition in 1999 and the building was opened in 2007. A visit to the sire arouses contradictory emotions, as practice director Enrique Sobejano explains: 'On the one hand, nostalgia for a remote, undiscovered past impregnates the landscape, while--on the other, a disorderly syrawl of modern buildings creeps disturbingly around the area that was once a palace city,' Their initial reaction was: 'We should not build on this landscape,' as so much of the city still awaited discovery. But they began too work 'like archaeologists', conceiving the building as a kind of contemporary ruin that connects both physically and symbolically with fragments of the past. 'We tried not to construct a wholly new building, but instead "discovered" it below the surface, as if the passage of time had kept it hidden right up to the present day', says director Fuensanta Nieto. Careful excavation of the site revealed patios, walls and pavements--the remnants of the original Moorish structures--and these act like a palimpsest palimpsest (pal`impsest'): see manuscript. or template to configure and organise the new building. Found wall structures have been strengthened by white boardmarked concrete and now support thin flat roofs of Cor-ten steel.

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ofuerst, March 22nd, 2011
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