Environmental Education Centre “El Captivador” by CrystalZoo

Nestled in the Spanish province of Alicante, lies the beautiful La Nucia where CrystalZoo’s latest project is glowing in the woodland.

In keeping with true CrystalZoo aesthetic, El Captivador marries natural and architectural design in a seamless yet innovative fashion. The visual experience compliments the functional intention, inviting visitors to engage with Mediterranean history from the outset. Managed by the City Council of La Nucia in collaboration with the University of Alicante, CrystalZoo have brought this cultural ideology to life, carefully constructing a balance between environmental awareness and structural intelligence.

Starting from the outside in, the complex allows the natural terrain to flow inwards, creating a bond with the focal building. The architecture neatly folds around the foliage without harmful interference. CrystalZoo maintain an awareness of their surroundings which results in a symbiotic relationship between the local olive trees and vegetation that co-inhabit this landscape with these modern interludes. What begins as delicate indications, subtle hints and a gentle reinterpretation of the sloping landscape, the staging of the building is set from a broad circumference. The hillside is sleepily staggered into wide stone steps that cut into the land with a natural graduation. The use of interchanging materials which appear in colorful tones that blend with neighboring rocks and plant-life allude to organic natural structure. With a peppering of native trees throughout the multi - dimensional shapes that lead towards the building, there is a sense of occasion as visitors make their way towards the center as it appears through a clearing in the thick, lustrous flora.

The center itself drinks in the surrounding landscape in both color, material and its maze like design. As paths swoop and slope above and beyond the central arena, further rooms and passages can be discovered hidden underneath the outdoor stairway. Skylights appear pocketed throughout, flashing the bright sunlight into the secret rooms below while cleverly disguised as timber to the visitors above. The main rooftop is the least “natural” in color, in terms that it doesn’t blend with the other interpretations of stone, wood and greenery below, but rather boasts bright booming oranges, yellows and reds of the hot Alicante sun overhead. Continuing to soak in the environment, CrystalZoo also highlight the task of environmental education at hand, encompassing the entirety of the location into the aesthetics of the design. The roof forms a protective shield of electric color, gently cascading over the arcs and domes carefully constructed to adhere to the natural arc of the sun, never obstructing light and continuing to invoke brightness, energy and optimism throughout the building. As the incorporation of outdoor landscapes into the structure permeates the design, the center’s location is justified, edified and fully contextualized.

Inside, CrystalZoo’s imaginative reinterpretation of architectural norms can be seen in every room. Challenging our perceptions of how a cultural or educational space should appear, and how its structural format should serve a specific purpose, they have created a dense labyrinth, rich in innovative design and a refreshing take on the concept. Stark white walls, balanced by sharp, edgy black detail and furnishings creates a focused environment which enables concentration as well as relaxation. Sharply contrasting with the rich color and intense heat of the outdoors, these chill indoor spaces create a cool and settled zone, free of heat waves and blinding light to allow the easy absorption of information and multiple levels of communication. Natural light inside is minimal, only sneaking through via small windows which act as manufactured lights in their size and scattered layout. The cool stone setting of the walls and weight of the roof above is lifted by delicate, fragile lighting that hang like stalactites, further cooling the interior and creating a calm, breezy atmosphere for visitors, cultural leaders and tour guides alike to regroup before embarking on a journey outside.

The center offers an extensive network of educational trails throughout its location, utilizing this green zone of vast, invigorating woodland. All of the activities run here are free of charge and are part of a larger project funded by the Town Council of La Nucia. Promoting environmental, cultural and natural awareness, they are behind a series of programs and actions taking place throughout the district. With CrystalZoo’s magical interpretation of the land, they have been granted a striking, innovative home for the task at hand. Hoping to dispel seasonal tourism, this center will act as a year-round attraction, drawing on the attractions of the area that do not rely on the summertime weather, but on the variety of cultural and environmental adventures on offer.

David Frutos Fotografia De Arquitectura