It was art historian Antonio Bonet who suggested to Murcia’s City Hall that Rafael Moneo be the architect to find a solution for the complicated plot on which the institution’s annex was to go up, on the Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, the city’s most prominent public space. With the excesses of 1980s postmodernism still in recent memory, the building on Plaza Cardenal Belluga was a good opportunity to prove that the preesistenze ambientali debate on how to build in a historical city still had not reached any definitive conclusions. Basically, there are no rules when it comes to intervening in a historical city. The Cardenal Belluga project was going to recognize what is singular, specific. We must listen to what the place is suggesting, then listen to our architectural instincts and transform hazy formal wishes into concrete buildings, making use of our knowledge of the field. Possibly the most important urban space of Murcia, Plaza Cardenal Belluga boasts the Cathedral of Murcia, whose monumental facade was designed by architect Jaime Bort in 1754; the Palace of Cardinal Belluga, on which architect Baltasar Canestro had worked from 1765 to 1768; and a series of residences built by the local bourgeoisie at the beginning of the 20th century. The site on which to intervene was the result of a demolition between the streets Frenería and San Patricio; the project had to fill in this void, helping the plaza become a plaza again. And so, upon recognizing the importance of the alignments and establishing an order of dimensions that would not seem too shocking on the plaza, the building’s architecture became an alternative to the giant Baroque altarpiece of the cathedral’s facade. The City Hall building is a modern replica of the cathedral’s altarpiece, displaying a vertical pilaster structure that accommodates a horizontal slab system; the relationship between the pilasters is random, their vertical edges are underlined. Also of interest is the contrast between the stone of the facade and the basalt of the square’s pavement, defined by substantially modifying its profile, which drew a concave surface. In conclusion, the plaza becomes a group of monumental buildings – Cathedral, Palace, City Hall – forming a space that does not lose tension in the early 20th-century bourgeois residences. The Murcia project hopes to demonstrate that respect for what already exists is no obstacle for freedom in architecture.

source: Office web