Culture

The “most spectacular” CaixaForum grows inside the Calatrava Agora to open in Valencia in July


Vista general por dentro del futuro CaixaForum en el edificio Ágora.
Overview of the future CaixaForum in the Ágora building. Rober Solsona (Europa Press)

It will be the ninth CaixaForum in Spain and “the most speculative and special”, according to the deputy director of the La Caixa Foundation, Elisa Durán. And not only because of its mammoth dimensions, but also because of the exceptionality that the new sociocultural center of the financial institution is growing in the bowels of the Agora, the last of the buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava in the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia, which was unfinished and empty of content. “It will be a unique space that combines an exceptional continent, content and public,” added Durán, in the visit he made this Thursday to the works of the building that will open the doors in the first half of July next year.

De derecha a izquierda, el director de CaixaForum Valencia, Álvaro Borrás, la directora general adjunta de la Fundación la Caixa, Elisa Durán, y el arquitecto Enric Ruiz- Geli, este jueves.
From right to left, the director of CaixaForum Valencia, Álvaro Borrás, the deputy general director of the Foundation la Caixa, Elisa Durán, and the architect Enric Ruiz-Geli, this Thursday. Rober Solsona (Europa Press)

The latest forecasts are being met and the 55% of the spaces created by the architect Enric Ruiz-Geli that he himself defined as the “landscape” within the Agora. “It will be a place where there are no limits between building and artistic intervention. There will be no competition, but a product of collective intelligence. Do you know a museum like this in Europe? ”The architect asked himself before journalists. The architect described as a “miracle” that the project is at the current level of execution taking into account factors such as the pandemic or the increase in the prices of raw materials. He especially pondered the work of the “heroes”, in reference to the workers.

The public will be able to freely access the central space , a large public square that forms the backbone of the different spaces. There is finishing a bleacher facing what will be the bookstore building, and the offices and annex to the restaurant and cafeteria. Behind the stands are located the exhibition rooms of 1. 500 square meters. And above them you can see the skeleton of the future Cloud, which will be one of the milestones of the new Caixaforum, especially for children and families. The work is now focused on the tasks of cladding and wrapping this multipurpose space, the highest of all and the closest to the dome that takes the shape of the skeleton of a whale and whose highest level reaches 70 meters.

Un operario trabaja en la obras de construcción del futuro espacio CaixaForum Valencia.
An operator works on the construction site of the future CaixaForum Valencia space. Ana Escobar (EFE )

The Catalan Ruiz-Geli highlighted the “ radical sustainability ”of the project and its vocation to join the fight against climate change. Under this premise, the work incorporates a striking artistic installation on the ceiling of the auditorium with which Frederic Amat denounces the situation of the forests. It will also house a vertical garden that consumes only 6% of water, in front of the 60% of other installations of this type, added the author of the Bulli Foundation project and an expert in scenography and innovative architecture. Construction materials such as cork, cardboard, CLT – laminated wood – or air floors are being used in the exhibition halls, he added.

The investment planned for the project by the Fundación la Caixa amounts to about 19 million euros, to which is added an annual budget of close to five million euros for the maintenance, operation of the center and programming. Precisely, Elisa Durán pointed out that the exhibition and activities offer will be announced in February or March of next year, but recalled that the main exhibitions will be shared with other Caixaforum, with which it will form a circuit. The annual organization of some 500 activities in the cultural, social and scientific fields is foreseen.

Un operario trabaja en la obras de construcción del futuro espacio CaixaForum Valencia.
An operator works on the construction site of the future CaixaForum Valencia space. Ana Escobar (EFE)

The investment of the la Caixa Foundation amounts to about 19, 4 million euros, to which is added an annual budget of about five million for the maintenance, operation of the center and programming. The facilities will occupy a total of 8. 200 useful square meters out of 9. 900 built. The Agora of Calatrava cost the Valencian Generalitat about 100 million euros and was very controversial for lacking a specific content, for its extra costs and for the complexity of a roof that originally had to be mobile and had to culminate with slats that were discarded. The Agora was inaugurated in 2009 still unfinished and hosted a couple of tennis championships and some other temporary events until closing in 2015. The Generalitat yielded in 2017 the space for a period of 50 years to the foundation that manages the Social Work of the bank in exchange for its reform and its operation.

The entity has commissioned two artistic works that will be permanently installed in the pond and inside the building by two emerging Valencian artists: Inma Femenía ( Pego, 35 years) and Anna Talens (Carcaixent, 42 years).

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