Plaza de España
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Competition 1998, master plan 1999-2001, project 2002-2005, realization 2006-2008

The entire area of the remodeled Plaza de España and the new Plaza de las Islas Canarias is conceived as a single connected public space that functions on two superposed levels: a lower level for heavy traffic which includes the projected railroad and car parks; and an upper level that links the pedestrian zone of the city with the new marina and the sea. There is nothing very radical about this, it is a pattern that has already been applied in many other places, with more or less success, while here it has been promoted especially in the political arena as a means of alleviating congestion. Then what is new and unique about the Santa Cruz de Tenerife project?

Much of today's Plaza de España and the cargo docks of the Muelle de Enlace is reclaimed land anchored in the steep drop of the Atlantic Coast at great expense and requiring immense quantities of material. Anything that is now constructed there will essentially be an additional crust, a new layer superimposed on what is for the most part landfill. Accordingly, the new structures will not be conventional architecture such as that found elsewhere in the city, but rather a landscape or a topography that stands out against the existing skyline of the city. The new architecture built on top of the reclaimed land will be different in expression from the rest of the city, which has grown and developed on the mainland.

The new Plaza de España and the Plaza de las Islas Canarias will form a crust of land on top of the subterranean flow of traffic, extending to the marina and the sea. Above ground this crust will have the appearance of artificial nature, resembling a lava flow or a sprawling beach. The new beach of Santa Cruz includes many urban facilities and amenities such as cafés, bars, kiosks, bus shelters, meeting places, as well as storage areas for the city’s large celebrations such as Carnaval or the Christmas concert.

All of these facilities are designed as pavilions that nestle in the plaza's crust. Although they are very different in shape, they all share a more or less remote resemblance to natural forms without imitating them. Their forms echo physical phenomena like the eruption and erosion that have been so instrumental in shaping the bizarre forms of the Canary Islands. An important design element on the new plaza crust is a single round water basin, a huge wading pool for young and old with a fountain in the middle that erupts four times a day indicating high and low tide.

A variety of historical architectural styles circles this huge water basin, which was erected on the foundations and surviving walls of the former “Castillo”: the conservative rigorous City Hall, the “Cabildo” built in the first half of the 20th century; the bold Santander Bank of the 1970s; the somber “Monumento de los Caídos” from the Franco era; and now the buildings we have designed which resemble natural structures or the caves in which the island’s native inhabitants once lived.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2001/2008


Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partner: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Christine Binswanger, David Koch
Project Architect: Astrid Peissard (Associate), Alexander Franz, Gustavo García, Miguel Pallarés, Stefan Segessenmann
Project Team: Javier Artacho Abascal, Carlos Bautista, José Luis Berrueta, Benito Blanco Avellano, Marcos Carreño, Sonia de Carvalho, Sergio Cobos, Massimo Corradi, Amadeus Dorsch, João Ferrão, Francisco de Freitas, Eric Frisch, José Gómez, Martin Haist, Sara Jacinto, Luis Játiva, María Ángeles Lerín, Daniel Mallo, Patricia Medina, Paulo Moreira, Roberto de Oliveira, Monica Ors Romagosa, Key Portilla Kawamura, Raquel Ramalheira, Martin Saarinen, Manuel Sánchez-Vera, Lys Villalba

Cabildo Insular de Tenerife, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

General Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Architect Construction: UTE Herzog & de Meuron SL, Barcelona, Spain; Virgilio Gutiérrez Herreros Arquitecto, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Construction Management: Virgilio Gutiérrez Herreros, Architecto, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland; CGA, Ramiro Cuende Tascón, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain; NTRES Arquitectos SL, Arsenio Pérez Amaral, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Structural Engineering: Reveriego & Associates, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
MEP Engineering: IGS Ingenieros, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain; Techne Ingeniería & Arquitectura SL, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Artist Collaboration: Patrick Blanc, Paris, France (Vegetal walls on pavilions)

Specialist / Consulting:
Technical Architects: Vicente Dorta & Javier Pino, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain; Natalia Hernández, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Vegetation Consultant: Cialjeme SL, Jesús de Diego, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Lighting: Estudio PVI Ingeniería SL, Pedro V. Ibañez, Barcelona, Spain

Building Data:
Site Area Plaza: 38,080sqm / 409,890sqft
Building Footprint Pavilions: 901sqm / 9,698sqft
Gross Floor Area Parking: 3,656sqm / 39,353sqft

- Pavilion 1: Tourist Information / Power Substation
- Pavilion 2: Restaurant / Access Parking
- Pavilion 3: Café – Bar / Shop / Access Parking
- Pool: 80 m Diameter, periodically filled with ground water
- Parking Garage: 120 slots


Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): Arquitectura Viva Monografías. Herzog & de Meuron 2005-2013.
Vol. No. 157/158, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva SL, 09.2012.

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Vol. No. 152/153, Madrid, El Croquis, 2010.

Ulrike Kunkel: Eine Insel um den Ozean. Plaza de España in Santa Cruz auf Teneriffa.
In: Katja Kohlhammer (Ed.). Deutsche Bauzeitung. Zeitschrift für Architekten und Bauingenieure. Aussenräume. Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Konradin Medien GmbH, 03.2010. pp. 36-43.

Klaus Englert: Plaza de España. Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
In: Robert Schäfer (Ed.). Materials and Details. The International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design. Vol. No. 68, Munich, Georg D.W. Callwey, 09.2009. pp. 21-25.

Fabrizio Gallanti: The Shell and the Disc. Il guscio e il disco.
In: Stefano Boeri (Ed.). Abitare. Vol. No. 489, Milan, 02.2009. pp. 72-91.

Plaza de España.
In: Detail. Vol. No. 5, Munich, Institut für internationale Architektur-Dokumentation, 12.2008. p. 1401.

Plaza de España en Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
In: Carlos Gonzalbo (Ed.). Diseño de la Ciudad. Barcelona, Delegacion Cataluna, 06.2006. pp. 61-69.

Fernando Márquez Cecilia, Richard Levene (Eds.): El Croquis. Herzog & de Meuron 2002-2006. Monumento e Intimidad. The Monumental and the Intimate.
Vol. No. 129/130, Madrid, El Croquis, 2006.

Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): Arquitectura Viva Monografías. Herzog & de Meuron 2000–2005.
Vol. No. 114, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva, 07.2005.

Geologia digital. Muelle de Enlace, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
In: Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.). Arquitectura Viva. Vol. No. 91, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva, 07.2003. pp. 72-73.
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