To maintain its city’s cultural standing, the government of Valencia resolved to establish a museum of national importance. The 35-hectare site chosen for this initiative is located in the dry bed of the Turia River, midway between the old city and the coastal district of Nazaret. A challenging architectural ensemble by Calatrava brings new focus to this previously incoherent and underdeveloped area, while linking the center city and the sea.
In 1991, Calatrava won the competition for the original project: a telecommunications tower, to be built on the west end of the site. Later that same year, Calatrava received the commission to develop the whole complex, which was also to include a science museum and a planetarium. After a change of government in 1996, the planned telecommunications tower was replaced by an Opera House (Palau de les Arts).
The Planetarium/IMAX theater resembles a human eye, set within a 24,000 square meters pool. The ‘pupil’ is the hemispherical dome of the IMAX theater, which is transformed into a globe through its reflection in the pool. The concrete socket of the eye incorporates an ‘eyelid’ of vertical, articulated metal slats, which can be raised to permit views across the pool. A sunken gallery — formed by the prefabricated concrete arches that support the roof — houses ticket booths, a restaurant and other services. Set slightly below grade to avoid visual conflict with the Science Museum and Opera House, the Planetarium is entered through the axial walkway, which surrounds the building and is connected to the gallery.
2005 - 2009
Av del Profesor López Piñero, 7