The new headquarters of the banking foundation FundaciĆ³n Caixa Galicia arose directly on Calle CantĆ³n Grande, one of La CoruĆ±aās premier streets. The architect Nicholas Grimshaw describes the building, which is set in a narrow empty space in the old city, as a ājewel wedged in between two buildingsā and as a ālighthouseā. This statement says it all: the FundaciĆ³n is wedged in and brightly lit. The luxury of a doubled additional faĆ§ade cladding made of backlit marble makes it a jewel.
Coming from the Calle CantĆ³n Grande, the visitor encounters a faĆ§ade that tilts slightly forward for its entire height. It forms a gentle curve at the eaves which ends as a large half-tunnel vault at the back of the FundaciĆ³n. FaĆ§ade and roof merge into a single entity and give definition to a large structure. The particular appeal of the building lies in the second shell made of VSG panels that completely covers the āfaĆ§adeā. Thin, translucent laminate made of glass and marble that is just four millimetres thick are embedded in the panels. During the day, the panels allow diffused sunlight to penetrate into each floor and, while backlit at night, they give the building a velvety shimmer. Because of the climate, the thermal aspects of the basic structure were relatively straightforward.
Elevated horizontal U-channels surround the sheets and silicon jointing directs rainwater outside. The three bottom rows can be tilted backwards to allow more light into the building. The shift of the two main axes is not perceptible to the eye.
They continue the gable sides of the adjacent buildings and sit at an angle of 91.3 degrees to each other. 1.3 degrees is not much, but it means the size of the panels is constantly changing and, therefore, they are custom made according to their position.
A glazed screen hangs in front of the main faĆ§ade, reflecting the traditional Gallerias (glazed balconies) found throughout La CoruĆ±a. A special membrane in the VSG panels is used for holographic projects at night. The bracing of the fish-bellied beams creates a delicate grid structure that is fastened onto a few consoles and floats completely disconnected in front of the building.
Additional seele designs include the fire protection glazing of the atrium for the full height of the building, glass floors that can be walked on, elevator cladding, bullet-proof office faĆ§ades and the stone cladding of the events hall. Bespoke steel and stainless steel glazing systems were used for the whole project.