In June 2022, Ximo Puig, president of the Community of Valencia, Joan Ribó, the city mayor and Isidro Fainé, president of the "La Caixa” Foundation, officially opened CaixaForum València, a new centre dedicated to culture and science.
On opening its doors, CaixaForum València began its mission of becoming a key cultural facility for the city. The new centre is destined to be a living space at the service of Valencians and visitors, in which culture acts as a tool promoting social cohesion and integration.
The ultimate goal of CaixaForum València is to allow audiences of all kinds to access a wide variety of cultural initiatives. In fact, the centre will host exhibitions of ancient, modern and contemporary art; exhibitions dedicated to science and social issues; concerts and poetry recitals, multimedia art events; debates on major current affairs; social, scientific and environmental conferences; educational workshops and activities aimed at groups of senior citizens.
Located within the Agorà structure, designed by Santiago Calatrava for the City of Arts and Sciences, CaixaForum highlights the commitment of the "La Caixa" Foundation to the Community of Valencia and its inhabitants by giving the city a state-of-the-art cultural centre that makes Valencia now the ninth Spanish city to boast a CaixaForum centre.
Construction was unfortunately affected by COVID-19 as work on the interior of the building began in March 2020, shortly before a state of emergency was declared due to the pandemic. After a halt due to strict lockdown conditions, work began again, and since then all deadlines have been met.
The "La Caixa" Foundation has invested over 19 million euros to complete this ambitious project and will donate an additional annual budget of approximately 5 million euros for maintenance, activities and operation.
The new centre has an overall floorspace of almost 10,000 sqm, with facilities including an educational space (La Nube), two exhibition halls, an auditorium seating 300, a bookshop, a restaurant, two conference halls and an administration complex where its employees work.
The architect Enric Ruiz-Geli describes the project as a landscape formed by interconnected spaces in a protective ecosystem. The most distinctive element in CaixaForum València, La Nube (The Cloud) is built with ultralight materials, including: a floor made from pure fibreglass that moves slightly to achieve a subtle sensation of floating and a lack of gravity, cladding made of very light, almost transparent polymers, and an open-plan, multifunctional interior. La Nube is located on a mezzanine floor whose difference in height is used to create a podium on which the state of the Oceans is displayed with data collected in real time. In this case, the light provided by iGuzzini luminaires indicate how the situations are changing: Linealuce RGB luminaires, controlled by a Master Pro DMX system, change the colour of the base of La Nube. According to the data collected regarding the temperature of the oceans, the light changes from blue to violet, as the percentage of red in the light increases as the temperature rises.
The auditorium, located at one end of the building, is equipped with the latest technology so it can host shows of all kinds. It is designed as a black box, with a cardboard landscape and a ceiling installation by Frederic Amat, entitled “El bosque escrito” (“The Written Forest”), as the work’s message is a call to protect forests. To make this space more attractive to audiences and sweep away any air of solemnity without detracting from its aesthetics, the seats are upholstered in brown, grey and blue denim fabric. Inside, artificial lighting is provided by ground-recessed Orbit luminaires with a 50mm diameter and small body Palco floodlights, inserted amongst the elements that make up the Amat installation.
Located on another side of the building, the restaurant is housed in an organically shaped construction, covered by a roof garden. Inside it looks like an enormous, comfortable cave that is made of cork and is therefore noise resistant thanks to the sound absorbency of this material. Natural Light comes from skylights that face the four cardinal points and are highlighted on the outside with Underscore InOut luminaires. These generate a subdued atmosphere while reducing energy demand. Artificial lighting is provided by Zurigo pendant luminaires that are positioned near the skylights and which, in the evening mimic the inflow of light during the day. Adjustable recessed Laser luminaires are also spread across the curved and irregular ceiling to light the horizontal planes and create a further sense of movement through snake-like light lines that resemble lightning bolts. There are Sirolo pendant luminaires near the entrance with IN30 HC pendant luminaires located above the reception area and bar counter.
The other building located in the space houses the administrative offices and bookshop. Its undulating roof is supported by a wooden structure reminiscent of the palm groves of Elche and covered with coloured ceramic tiles created by Toni Cumella. The office areas are located on the upper floor and in this case, as video monitors will be used, pendant IN90 luminaires have been installed with UGR<19 and up/down emission. The floor below includes a bookshop lit by Laser Blade XS luminaires with a flood optic combined with Zurigo luminaires in a transparent, jellyfish-like version, some of which are grouped together to create distinctive luminous blooms.
In addition to the lighting of the three main buildings, Calatrava’s magnificent architecture is illuminated mainly by 15, 18 and InOut Underscore light lines, depending on the locations in which they are installed and the curve of the surfaces.
Enric Ruiz-Geli describes his design as a collective intelligence project in which professionals and companies from very different fields took part. These include 3D printing robotics, integral energy engineering, landscaping, audio-visual technology, lighting, furniture, composites, acoustic ceramics and biodiversity. The new centre meets the highest standards of energy efficiency, and its entire construction process was environmentally-friendly, as was the selection of materials. Enric Ruiz-Geli describes his architectural project as “radically sustainable”. This is demonstrated by the choice of materials and the pioneering air-conditioning system in the exhibition halls and the restaurant roof garden. Thanks to these solutions CaixaForum València has Leed Platinum certification that classifies it as a highly efficient sustainable building.
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