Praza de Oseira

Praza de Oseira is the main square of a small town of 2.500 inhabitants, called Rodeiro, in the province of Pontevedra in Galicia.

The name of this plaza is connected to the fact that one of the roads bordering the square connects Rodeiro with the monastery of Oseira in the neighbouring municipality. This is a 10th century Romanesque monastery which throughout history has had great economic and social importance in this region. The monastery stands out for its size and its compact construction in granite from one of the many quarries in the area, which undoubtedly inspired solutions for this project.

It should also be mentioned that a variant of the French route of camino de Santiago, the “winter route”, crosses plaza Oseira. This is an alternative commonly preferred in the winter season to avoid the hard climb to the snowy peaks of “O Cebreiro”.

Before this intervention, Praza de Oseira, which had already undergone several rehabilitations throughout history, was levelled above the surrounding streets and closed around its perimeter by a small wall and fence, which was not very inviting and therefore not often used by the population to its full potential, hence one of the big objectives of this proposal was to open up the old Praza de Oseira to the people and create a meeting place and rest spot for both pilgrims and locals alike.

Therefore, to remove all former barriers and create an inviting space to all passers-by for leisure and recreation all the fences were to be eliminated, the walls reduced to a minimum and the terrain modelled to have less abrupt level transitions.

In the plaza there are a number of impressive oaks “Quercus robur” and chestnut trees “Castanea sativa” that had to be preserved at all costs though and this meant that most of the top level of the plaza had to be respected, so to mitigate the transition from lower level to higher level an irregular grandstand was created with large granite blocks, with the purpose of connecting the different elevations in a softer more inviting manner.

Composed of unevenly staked blocks, the appearance of this grandstand suggests the shapes of the quarries so characteristic of this area, this allows people to sit on the blocks or climb the informal stairways, that show up as smaller blocks among the bigger blocks, and reach the shelter of the shade provided by the beautiful specimens of trees that have been preserved.

There is also a flat surface in front of the grandstand that can function as a place for small performances and markets.

The grandstand therefore serves multiple functions: composes an iconic structure, contains the soil level needed to maintain the existing trees, provides a softer transition between different streets and plaza levels and functions as sitting at different heights.

Accessibility was also a major concern and therefor there is ramp access integrated within the project language as zig zagging paths crossing the blocks.

The predominant most iconic structure is the grand stand but the rest of the project also follows this “quarry” logic giving special importance to stone as the main hard surface material. A defined grid establishes the direction and placement of all stone elements of the project from the rough cobblestones of the vehicular paving, to the bush-hammered stones on the pedestrian paving or the staked polished granite blocks that echo the grand stand logic all over the intervention. Special pieces have also been made for the rainwater collection and drains, taking advantage of the know-how of the people who have always worked the stone in this region. This project is also a tribute to them.

Architecture offices involved in the design: Promove Arquitectura

Project location: Praza de Oseira, 36537, Rodeiro, Pontevedra, Spain

Design year: 2018

Year Built: 2020

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