Making Waves: Selgas Cano At The Martell Foundation

SLIDESHOW: Selgas Cano’s pavilion at the Martell Foundation in France.

The Martell Foundation is home to a 1,300-square-metre pavilion created by Spanish architecture studio Selgas Cano, open to the public for the next year.

Spanish architecture studio Selgas Cano is showing its first commission in France — a huge pavilion of sheer waves flowing through the courtyard of the Martell Foundation.

After the success of their Serpentine Pavilion, London, in 2015, the Spanish duo had six weeks to imagine an organic, undulating structure in the courtyard of the Martell Foundation. In this rich historical setting, the 1,300-square-metre structure forms a labyrinth canopy between the gatehouse building and 18th century wine cellars.

“We wanted to break away from the linear perspective that connects the entrance to the founder’s house. We wanted to create a contrasting form,” according to José Selgas & Lucía Cano. “The structural aspect was fundamental to us; the brief was to design a lightweight, free-standing ensemble that could welcome site-specific cultural events.”

Created and set up in less than two months, the pavilion uses repetitive elements: 43 porticos and eight different sets of curved tubular structures define the whole project, designed using a wavy, translucent material — in polyester and fibre glass — developed by French brand Onduline. A touch of yellow further brightens the pavilion: filled with water (to weigh the structure down) inflatable seats are randomly installed in the structure.

“Strong and watertight, the material is permeated by a soft, changing light, which creates intriguing iridescent effects,” says Nathalie Viot, head of the Martell Foundation. “The aim of the pavilion is for people to mingle, and attend a diverse programme of activities: an agora has been installed for concerts and performance-based experiences; a couple of bars and stands will welcome local producers during set market days and serve cocktails. There is even room for food trucks to serve local specialities.”

Staged like a series of translucent waves, the pavilion is designed to be a maze. “We hope visitors will wander as in a forest, meander inside the structure,” according to José Selgas & Lucía Cano. If the initial brief was very open, the architects worked on the idea of recreating a city square, a place where one can meet or hide.

Martell Pavilion by Selgas Cano, 30 June 2017 to 30 June 2018.

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