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The Centro Botín Art and Culture Gallery

The Centro Botín, a space dedicated to art, culture and the various activities of the Botín Foundation, was officially opened in June 2017. The gallery is an important new cultural centre for Northern Spain, and as Íñigo Sáenz de Miera, Head of the Botín Foundation stated, «it will be a major force in generating economic, social and cultural value for the entire Cantabria region».

Built on what was previously a car park in the Pereda Gardens on the Santander seafront, the structure restores the town's close relationship with the Atlantic Ocean.  The first part of the project involved road access and the general restoration of the surrounding waterfront park named after the Spanish novelist José Maria de Pereda. Designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Fernando Caruncho & Asociados studio, this project doubled the park area to 48,000 square metres by moving the noisy coastal road underground and thereby safeguarding the park's hallmark monuments, like the Meones fountain and the monuments  to Pereda and Victor de la Serna. UFO pole-top luminaires fitted with Opti Comfort optics were installed to create even, homogeneous lighting with high colour rendering for the various pathways. These optics create perfect semi-cylindrical lighting that makes people more recognisable and generates a general sensation of well-being and safety. In the key areas of the park, the light from these UFO luminaires is also combined with accent lighting effects produced by iPro floodlights mounted on MultiPro pole systems.

The actual Centro Botín complex is located inside this park, directly overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It has a total surface area of over 6,800 m2 (of which over 2,400 m2 is exhibition space) , divided between two rounded, hull-like forms raised up on slender pillars. These wings are connected by a series of light, steel and glass staircases and gantries that combine to create a structure that seems to reach out over the sea. In the East Wing there is a 300 seat auditorium, lit by recessed Reflex luminaires , and an educational area. In the West Wing the exhibition galleries are located on two floors, both lit from above by a roof made of laminated glass, aluminium and white canvas. At night the artificial interior lighting filters outwards through the glass sections to transform the building into a lantern that reveals the complexity of Piano's design. The exhibition areas, which require high precision and adaptable illumination, have been lit with Palco spotlights, installed on tracks recessed in the ceiling. The result is a pure, sharp, linear, white environment with evenly lit vertical walls. For the entrance hall, restaurant area and bookshop, pendant Le Perroquet spotlights have been installed and are used with a combination of direct emission for general lighting and indirect emission that creates circular effects on the ceiling. The ceiling is particularly distinctive as is covered with the same rounded pearlescent ceramic discs that cover the outside of the building. During the day, this shell of iridescent scales captures the reflections of the ocean and brings joy and light to the often grey and cloudy Santander atmosphere. At night, the same effect is created by iPro spotlights mounted on Multipro poles that illuminate the vertical thrust of these disc walls specifically designed by Renzo Piano himself. Ledplus luminaires fitted with an elliptical light flow distribution refractor have also been ground-installed and point upwards  to illuminate the lower parts of the two wings as evenly as possible, making them look as if they are flying on a glowing halo of light.

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  • Year
  • Client
    Botín Foundation
  • Architectural project:
    Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Luis Vidal + Architects
  • Lighting project:
    Artec3 Studio
  • Structural engineering:
  • Landscape architecture:
    Fernando Caruncho & Asociados
  • Photographer
    Enrico Cano