NORMAN Foster’s sixth building in Spain may not be in a city or cross a river – but in a village of 135 people in semi-arid Almeria.
The famous bouncer-turned-modern-architect, 85, is considering plans to build a conference centre and touristic homes upon ruins from the Moorish civilisation in Alcudia de Monteagud.
In cooperation with local historians and politicians, the project is intended to bring new life and work opportunities to a region devastated by rural depopulation.
The proposed accomodation for just ‘20 people’ and a 250m2 multipurpose space are a far cry from Foster’s landmark achievements – which include London’s ‘The Gherkin’, the Millenium Bridge, the Great Court at the British Museum, the tallest bridge in the world (Millau Viaduct), Apple Park, Spain’s second tallest building the Torre Cepsa, Bilbao’s entire Metro system, Apple Park and a series of Repsol petrol stations.
But since the creation of the non-profit Norman Foster Foundation in 2017, the architect with a Spanish wife has intended to focus his work on new societal problems.
“Infrastructure,” Foster told the Guardian in 2015, “is investing not to solve the problems of today, but to anticipate the issues of future generations.”
Alcudia de Monteagud could be the Foundation’s first Spanish site where many of Spain’s current problems converge.
“The new centre will serve as a springboard for social and economic recuperation en the Sierra de Filabres, and a symbol that the province of Almeria has exited the crisis,” local historian and collaborator Juan Garcia de la Torre said.
“In essence, the project will become an example of ecological and sustainable architecture for the 21st century.”
Alcudia de Monteagud mayor, Juan Blas Martinez, said: “The centre will be a kind of economic catalyst for the interior of Almeria. It opens the door to a new model of small-scale tourism, but of high value, and based in nature and culture.
“It’s time for us to look ahead and build innovative and exciting projects that give us back confidence in future.”
The project, dubbed the Centro Cultural y Albergue Torre Nazari de Alhabia, is still provisional and set to be constructed upon the Bien de Interes Cultural of the same name.
A spokesperson for the Norman Foster Foundation told the Olive Press: “Neither Lord Norman Foster nor the Norman Foster Foundation have, to date, any agreement to build, rebuild, rehabilitate or write any project in the municipality of Alcudia de Monteagud.”
The spokesperson added there has been an approach from the Town Hall, but it is understood that plans are under review.