Rehabilitation of the Castillo de la Luz

A historic building

At the height of the conquest of the Canary Islands by the Kingdom of Castile, piracy was threatening the ships returning from America, loaded to the brim and with exhausted crews. Captain Juan Rejón ordered the construction of a wooden fort in 1478 on a reef, which the Atlantic isolated at high tide, to protect the returning expeditions. In 1494, the third governor of the Canary Islands, appointed by Castile, ordered the construction of the mighty and powerful Castillo de La Luz on that rocky spit of land, replacing the very weak wooden structure with thick stone and mortar walls that would withstand the onslaught of the sea. What the fortress could not withstand was the relentless advance of the city over that peninsular and the empty space between the walls was filled with sand. It had been left without light... blinded... the Castillo de la Luz.

The rehabilitation of the building

Therefore, the most important operation of the renovation of the historic building The most important operation of the project consisted of bringing light into the Castillo de la Luz, emptying the moats of encroaching sand and revealing the astonishing irregular masonry, perforated by openings with original shapes and a very graceful layout. Inside the walls, light surfaces contrast with the irregular masonry and the railings made of Corten steel sheets. The new surfaces accentuate the beauty of the old ones and welcome the new light that bounces off them to pay homage to this military and maritime architecture.

Refurbishment of Castillo de la Luz detailing enclosure

Nieto and Sobejano (both born in Madrid in 1957) are the members of the splendid architectural firm that has restored the castle to its former glory with this masterly restoration. It is an enormous task to recall the successes of this pair of architects from the Madrid school. We will therefore mention their latest and most important triumph in the competition to build the future Guangzhou Science Museum. This is a series of huge volumes inspired by Chinese ceramic bowls in both their shape and ceramic surface. Once again Nieto and Sobejano are inspired by an ingenious, indigenous idea to express their very fine sensibility.

Rehabilitation of the interior Castillo de la Luz

But let's get back to what concerns us... our castle. As the renovation project also includes a change of use (from military to museum), the renovation takes advantage of the volume cleared in front of the city to erect the necessary access pavilion. In another flash of finesse and technique by Nieto and Sobejano, this complementary building contrasts with the castle by contrast, opting for a horizontal dimension. A large slab of Corten steel is combined with a white concrete slab and a very subtle translucent glass skylight. Perforations also appear, confirming this vocation for inducing sunlight into every corner of the building.

The entire enclosure is delimited by a steel wall made of 2.30 x 1.70 steel plates separated by 5 centimetres, which increases the mystery of those who walk around it and the surprise of those who enter it. These walls, of very little thickness, almost like sheets of cardboard, accompany the perimetral wandering of access and exit and once again contrast with the very powerful stone walls of the restored Castillo de la Luz. The protagonist mass features Corten steel additions that form skylights and a terrace that provides a view between the battlements, of the city and the courtyard of the military construction, where the beautiful lime trees planted in a sandy, albero colour, once again contrast their green tones with the reddish tones of the Corten steel and the white of the concrete.

Rehabilitation of the rear Castillo de la Luz

In the old moat, now a garden with a dense lawn, the renowned and much admired sculptor from the Canary Islands has placed an extraordinary and emblématical wrought iron piece, Martín Chirino (1925, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), who has been working with the Marlborough Gallery of Madrid for many years. This work (probably forged in the artist's workshop in Chinchón, Madrid), converses in fluid dialogue with the Castillo de la Luz, now finally illuminated and illuminating the Atlantic.

At Antana we maintain a very special sensitivity in the rehabilitation of historic buildings, being aware of the importance of the construction details in this type of work.

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