BIG has been selected as winners of an international invited competition for the design of a new food tech hub in San Sebastian, Spain. The scheme was selected over four other entries from OMA, Snøhetta, 3XN, and Toyo Ito & Associates. Officially named the Basque Culinary Center, the new 9,000-square-meter (97,000-square-foot) hub will bring start-ups, researchers, and chefs under one roof with the goal of advancing food sciences.
At the street level, the building is set back to create a public plaza that connects to the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrims’ path. Responding to a significant height difference across the site, the building also steps upwards to form a series of terraced and recessed windows, where activities within kitchens, labs, and classes are visible to the public.
“Conceived as an architectural extension of the dramatic landscape and cityscape of San Sebastian, our proposed design liberates the ground and provides parks on the roof to invite the public life of the city to engage with the art and science of gastronomy,” said Bjarke Ingels on the scheme. “Located on the heralded Camino de Santiago de Compostela — we believe that this architectural fusion of gastronomy and technology, city and landscape, building and park has the potential to become a destination in its own right for culinary pilgrims from around the world.”
The backbone of BIG’s scheme is the Gastro Hall, a central space running from the ground floor to the roof, through which all users and visitors enter the building. A grand staircase within the hall links all levels of the building while doubling as an amphitheater for events and lecturers. The stairs also provide access to an auditorium, public terraces, and a top-floor restaurant.
The food labs and offices contain open classrooms, laboratories, and kitchens, that can be rearranged for different purposes due to extra height and width allowances. The kitchens and laboratories are clad with industrial materials for hygiene and maintenance, while public spaces prioritize wood and stone to create a welcoming atmosphere. Outside, meanwhile, the building’s terraces contain orchards, restaurant terraces, and a landscaped auditorium for outdoor events.
News of the scheme comes in the same month that BIG was selected as designers for the new Vltava Philharmonic Hall in Prague. Also in May, the Google Bay View HQ campus jointly designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio was opened, with a signature solar tile roof.
In April, updated designs emerged for BIG’s floating city in Busan, South Korea, while the firm was also selected as the winner of a major research center competition in Seville for the European Commission.
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