Spanish Pousada: Heavenly and Humanly
A monastery like a massif with the surrounding built of rock. This is the impact that the Cistercian monastery of Santa María has on the eyes of the beholder. It is situated in Armenteira (Municipality of Meis), a small place in Galicia, Spain. The church, completed in the 13th century, is an attraction for visitors, impossible for the locals to imagine life without, and, in any case, it characterises the entire surrounding. This is how the building became a reference point, and in a certain way, a yardstick, for a rural hotel complex, the "Pousada de Armenteira" that has come up in the immediate vicinity. It offers its guests the beauty and peace of a monastery, combined with the comfort and the gardens of a castle. And all of this, is completely barrier-free for handicapped human beings unable to walk. The customer is the provincial administration of Pontevedra, and the designer is the Galician architect, Mauro Lomba Martínez.
In line with the model of the Monks
Wafts of mist cover the hillside at the edge of the forest. We are situated in the rural surrounding of Armenteira where this lodging facility was created, which has nothing in common with our conventional imagination or expectation of tourism. The neighbourhood: small single-family houses and working farms. The region is a natural and cultural reserve thanks to its proximity to the monastery. Accordingly, the construction had to be designed and built gently. This is why the architect, Martínez structured the building in terraces, such that it snuggles up closely to the hillside. The offset floors, in fact, get lost partially in the hillside, and the vegetation continues over their roofs. Arcades made of rock and logs, which remind you of the wine cellars of the monastery, lead underground. These parts of the building get air from a sophisticated ventilation system through which the forest air can flow inside. They receive light via glass pyramids, whose peaks form ventilation for dark chimneys that rise in the midst of the pyramids. They guide the smoke from exposed fireplaces in the building outside, which are based on the furnaces of the monks in Santa María.
Even the rock facades of the building are equivalent to those in the monastery and convert the old Christian architecture to the modern. Just like the thin steel fences, their pattern and structure incorporates the almost organic effect and shapes from the surrounding forest. This equivalence continues with the dark wooden components that are supported on the concrete floors. The colour and lively texture is thanks to a coating of Lignovit Platin Onyx black. "I have decided to apply a coat of this glaze finish from ADLER to all wooden elements outdoors, since the brand stands for quality even here in Spain. However, the main reason is that Lignovit respects the natural properties of the wood, its structure and texture. It does not merely serve to preserve the wood, but enhances its beauty", says Mauro Lomba Martínez. The wood that he has used originates naturally from the surrounding forests. The entire premises are barrier-free and accessible in this way to the guests. The terraces and gardens are like the inner courtyard of a monastery that is closed to the exterior, spacious inside and green – a real oasis of relaxation and peace.
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