Is a square open to the world, as one of its slogans says, located on the right bank of the Ría de Avilés. It is the first and main piece of The Island of Innovation, a larger project to regenerate a deeply industrial city in the twentieth century that aspires to an aesthetic and postindustrial reconversion in the XXI. Since before its inauguration in March of 2011, the center has already powerful magnet able to attract talent and Avilés began to parade all kinds of personalities and celebrities: Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Wim Wenders, Carlos Saura, Paulo Coelho, Wole Soyinka, Vinton Cerf and a long etcetera. And this is how little by little an enthusiastic and active community is created, identified with the Centro Niemeyer brand.
Óscar Niemeyer's Spanish work
The 15 of December of 2010, the avilesino complex, still under construction, opened its doors for the first time on the occasion of the 103 birthday of Óscar Niemeyer, the prestigious Brazilian architect who gives name to the cultural center and who years ago agreed to give Avilés this project as a thank you to the 1989 award of the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. It is his only work in our country and considered as the most important of those that has done in Europe this follower of Le Corbusier and father of Brasilia. The magnitude of the same began in the own land in which it is based, because this one has been gained to the sea and to locate the foundations had to pilot to more than 20 meters of depth looking for rock. The resulting buildings are, in addition, higher upwards than upwards and that is why they were used very innovative construction technologies. Take an example: to raise the dome in the shape of an igloo, a technique called Domo was used, which consists of inflating a PVC membrane and then projecting the concrete and formwork from within. This allowed to build the dome in just a few hours, being the first time that this technique was used in Spain in a civil work.
The Auditorium, the Dome, the Tower-Viewpoint, the Multipurpose Building and the Open Plaza are the five spaces that make up the Center. The first of them is not only the highest but also the one that has been most arduous in terms of its construction, given the complexity of the forms. We are surprised by its intense yellow and the large and delicate strokes of a woman who rests placidly and who seems to welcome us. The auditorium interior has close to 1000 seats; the hall has been designed to host exhibitions and under the stage space there is a chamber room, for the celebration of spectacles with limited capacity. Another feature is its large stage, integrated into the building but open to the Plaza, designed for large events as outdoor concerts and with a capacity for 10.000 people.
the Dome or hemisphere constitutes a diaphanous exhibition space of 2.000 square meters. Its interior, with sinuous forms that achieve an unprecedented balance, houses a lamp designed by the architect himself and a highly praised helical staircase.
The Tower-Lookedr, of 20 meters of height, with harmonious spiral stairs, allows to appreciate the disposition of the work on the estuary. It has been thought of as a gastronomic space. The Niemeyer Center gives gastronomy a cultural entity similar to that of any other art. Inside the visitor can witness and taste the preparation of menus created by guest chefs.
In the Multi-purpose building is the Cinema, with capacity for one hundred people. This space is the only one of the Principality in which films in original version are projected permanently. Its president and advisor on content is Woody Allen. Other multidisciplinary rooms stand out, especially those dominated by two beautiful murals designed by Niemeyer himself.
Finally, the Open Plaza, is a large space in which recreational and cultural activities are carried out and, in some way, a link between the Center and the city, since the historic center is barely 500 meters.
The final result is a place of great beauty that will leave very few indifferent. The esplanade in which the buildings are built is a space full of magic and harmony, where white cement that looks like immaculate fabric predominates and has been able to relegate industrial and polluting chimneys to the background. It is said that Niemeyer himself has commented on occasion that "if something is beautiful, it is useful" and that vision is also clear in different aspects of the Center, such as the catwalk that joins the Dome and the Auditorium and has no other utility than guide our eyes between the set of buildings.
In front of all this artistic display is a floating footbridge that unites it to the city and that serves as a viewpoint on the new architectural space. A walk that the citizens of Avilés and its visitors frequent enthusiastically.
Óscar Niemeyer Center opening hours
Plaza opening from Mondays to Sundays
· From 09:00 to 24:00.
Reception and box office
· From January 2 to June 21 (from Monday to Sunday).
· De 10:30 a 14:30 y de 15:30 a 19:30 h.
· From June 22 to September 13 (Monday to Sunday).
· De 10:00 a 14:30 y de 15:30 a 20:30 h.
· From September 14 to December 31 (from Monday to Sunday).
· De 10:30 a 14:30 y de 15:30 a 19:30 h.
Regular exhibition hours
· From Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00.
· See each exhibition for more information.
· Closed days
The Niemeyer Center will close on December 24, 25 and 31 and January 1.
Tel. + 34 984 835 031
Approximate duration of the visit: 45 m. The Niemeyer Center is five minutes from the historic center of Avilés. It can be accessed through the walkway of the old Plaza del Pescado, on Calle Llano Ponte, and also through the pedestrian bridge located at the end of the Paseo de la ría, on Avenida Conde de Guadalhorce.
The Center has 300 underground parking spaces.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com