Córdoba, Spain 1999-2009



Córdoba, Spain 1999-2009

The Romantic image of ruins, so often rejected for being nostalgic and anachronistic, is nonetheless able to convey not only the evocative power of buildings from the past but also the destructive strength of time and nature. In this -construction, destruction-resides, perhaps, the fascination that archaeological remains possess not only as reminders of the disappeared buildings, but also as triggers for the mental reconstruction of other, future architectures. At least this is how we understood the situation when we visited the archaeological precinct of Madinat al-Zahra for the first time. The remains of the old Hispano-Muslim city suggested a dialogue with those who, a thousand years earlier, had conceived and built it, as well as with the patient work of archaeologists and with the surrounding agrarian landscape, to which the geometry of the ruins gave an unexpected abstract quality.
The terrain of the archaeological site for the museum, however, stirred up mixed feelings. On the one hand, the yearning for a remote past yet to be discovered pervaded the landscape stretching all the way to the mountain ranges of Córdoba. On the other hand, the disorderly growth of new constructions loomed uncomfortably over the old city. Our first reaction upon arriving at the site determined our proposal from the very outset: we should not build in that landscape. In such a vast expanse of land, still waiting to be excavated, we decided to act as an archaeologist would: not building a new structure, but unearthing it below ground, as if the passage of time had concealed it until now.
“We established a two-dimensional orthogonal grid, a point of origin and reference height. We marked the rectangular boxes from which the terrain excavation must start and eliminated the series of layers in strata of a standard thickness. This patient task yielded hopeful results, revealing the floor plan of a building whose walls were used to configure the museum, auditorium, workshops, and storage space. We then defined the walls, raised a first level, and covered them. Upon discovering pavements of old courtyards and corridors we renovated them and turned them into key elements of the new project. Finally, we delimited the context of our intervention, building a perimeter enclosure: a precinct that will protect the remains found.”
This text, excerpted from our competition statement, is perhaps the one that best conveys the original idea -the metaphor of an excavation- so that our task ultimately consisted of revealing and unearthing, as archaeologists still do, the architectures hidden below ground. In this way, the project unveils the floor plan of an underground museum, which articulates its halls around a sequence of solid and void spaces, covered areas and courtyards that guide visitors along their itinerary. The main lobby leads to a large courtyard with a square floor plan that, like a cloister, organizes around it the main public spaces: assembly hall, cafeteria, store, library, and exhibition halls. A deep, elongated courtyard articulates the private-use areas: administration, conservation workshops, and research zones. A final courtyard is the expansion of the museum exhibition areas toward the exterior. The storage areas, conceived as large skylit rooms, blend with the public and exhibition spaces. The conception of the project allows for further expansion, making it possible to add pavilions as if they were new excavations. The new museum establishes almost imperceptibly a permanent dialogue with the architecture and the landscape of the old Arab medina. The double-square floor plan of the museum is homothetic to that of the city; the gardens evoke the abandoned geometry of an excavation; and the concrete walls and cor-ten steel roofs reflect the white and red colors of the stuccoed walls of the Caliphal city. Light, shadow, texture, and matter evoke the palpable richness of the archaeological ruins. The architecture thus becomes a spatial and formal expression of its constructive support, a connection so often forgotten these days. Every time we visited the site, the new walls we were raising recalled those that had been destroyed and were now being unearthed by archaeologists just a few meters away, in an inverse process -construction, destruction- which seemed to encapsulate the whole sense of the project. The Madinat al-Zahra Museum has emerged silently in the landscape, as if it had been discovered underground, just as it will keep on happening with the old white city of the Umayyad Caliphs over the course of the years.


Córdoba, Spain 1999-2009

Córdoba, Spain
Government of Andalucía
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Fuensanta Nieto, Enrique Sobejano
Archaeological museum and research centre
Total floor area
7.293 m2
Project architect
Miguel Ubarrechena
Project team
Carlos Ballesteros, Pedro Quero, Juan Carlos Redondo
Site supervision
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Fuensanta Nieto, Enrique Sobejano
Miguel Mesas Izquierdo
Structural engineer
N.B.35, S.L.
Mechanical engineer
Geasyt, S.A.
Museographic project
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos / Frade Arquitectos, S.L.
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Juan de Dios Hernández - Jesús Rey
Aurofoto, S.L. (models)
Roland Halbe    
Fernando Alda 
Rafael Tena 
Project dates
Competition: 1999
Design: 2002
Completion: 2009


Córdoba, Spain 1999-2009

Magazine REVISTA DE MUSEOLOGÍA nº 83. 2022
Published by Asociación Española de Museólogos. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1134-0576
Page: 76 – 77 
Book MODERN ARCHITECTURE. A Critical History. 2020
Published by Thames & Hudson, Ltd, London. UK
ISBN: 978-0-500-20444-3
Text: Kenneth Frampton
Page: 561
Magazine ROOM nº 28. 2020
Published byRoom Magazine S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 2444-367X
Page: 95
Monograph TC CUADERNOS nº 131/132. 2017
Published by General de Ediciones de Arquitectura. Valencia, Spain
ISBN: 978-84-947421-4-9 
Page: 52 – 71 
Published by Colegio de Arquitectos de Cataluña y Agrupación de Arquitectos para la Defensa y la Intervención en el Patrimonio Arquitectónico (ADIPA). Spain                                            Author: Jordi Segura, Núria Corbella, Josep Esteve, Laia Renalias, Leticia Soriano
ISBN: 9788496842-37-0
Page:  84 – 85
Book VIAGGIO NEL MEDITERRANEO. La costruzione di un paesaggio attraverso l´iconografia dello spazio architettonico. 2016
Published by LetteraVentidue Edizioni S.r.l. Syracuse, Italy                                                                                               
Author: Giorgia De Pasquale
ISBN: 978-88-6242-189-8
Page: 130

Book CON LE ROVINE. La musealizzazione contemporanea del sito archeologico. 2016
Published by Edifir Edizioni Firenze s.r.l. Florence, Italy                                                                                               
Author: Fabio Fabbrizzi
ISBN: 978-88-7970-682-7
Page: 38 – 43
Published by Ordine degli Architetti PPC. Roma, Italy
Page: 298 – 307

Monograph NS. 2014
Fuensanta Nieto Enrique Sobejano Architetture
Published by Electa Architecttura. Milan, Italy
Authors: Fuensanta Nieto & Enrique Sobejano
ISBN: 978-88-9180-228-6
Page: 24 – 35

Book SPAIN BUILDS. 2015                                                                                                                                  Arquitectura en España 1975-2015
Published by Arquitectura Viva, S.L. Madrid, Spain                                                                                                     Author: Luis Fernández-Galiano
ISBN: 978-84-606-7297-5
Article: La permanencia del pasado arqueológico / The Permanence of the Archaeological Past
Page: 198  
Magazine LOTUS INTERNATIONAL nº 154. 2014
Published by Editoriale Lotus srl. Milan, Italy
ISSN: 1124-9064
Page: 122 – 125

Published by Braun Publishing AG. Salenstein, Switzerland                                                                                          Author: Chris van Uffelen
ISBN: 978-3-03768-164-0
Page: 86 – 89

Published by Hatje Cantz Verlag. Ostfildern, Germany
Authors: Fuensanta Nieto & Enrique Sobejano
ISBN: 978-3-7757-3619-0
Page: 37 – 53

Magazine SPEECH nº 10. 2013
Published by SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov. Moscow, Russia
ISBN: 978-3-86922-071-0
Article: You have to find a balance. Interview Enrique sobejano
Author: David Cohn
Page: 197 – 225

Magazine EN BLANCO nº 10. 2012
Published by General de Ediciones de Arquitectura, S.L. Valencia, Spain
ISSN: 1888-5616
Article: La ciudad blanca: Madinat Al-Zahra
Author: Enrique Sobejano
Page: 6 – 11

Monograph WA nº 269. 2012
Nieto Sobejano Architects
Published by World  Architecture Magazine Publications, Beijing, China
ISSN: 1002-4832
Page: 36 – 41 

Magazine MÚZEUMCAFÉ nº 29. 2012
Published by Múzeumcafé. Budapest, Hungary
ISSN: 1789-3291
Article: Iszlám Bemutatóhely az év Európai Múzeuma
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 9

Magazine T+A. Time + Architecture nº 125. 2012
Published by Tongji University Press. Shanghai, China
ISSN: 1005-684X
Article: Places and Memories
Author: CAI Wei
Page: 74 – 81

Catalogue EUROPEAN UNIO PRIZE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE. 2012                              
Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2011
Published by Fundación Mies van del Rohe & Actar. Barcelona, Spain
ISBN: 978-84-92861-76-7
Page: 224 – 227

Catalogue Exhibition BS+ ARQUITECTURA ESPAÑOLA 1975-2010. 2012
35 + “Construyendo en Democracia”
Published by Antonio Ruiz Barbarín & Ministerio de Fomento. Madrid, Spain
ISBN-10: 84-615-6173-2
ISBN-13: 978-84-615-6173-5
Page: 170

Magazine WA nº 05. 2011
Implicate & Explicate: The 2010 AKAA
Published by World Architecture Magazine Publications. Beijing, China
ISSN: 1002-4832
Page: 34 – 41

Magazine THE PLAN nº 52. 2011
Published by Centauro srl. Bologna, Italy
ISSN: 1720-6553
Page: 48 – 49

Magazine MARK nº 35. 2011
Published by Frame Pubishers. Amsterdam, Netherlands
ISSN: 1574-6453
Article: Quietly Brilliant. Nieto Sobejano gains recognition through intellectual rigour
Author: Rafael Gomez-Moriana
Page: 74 – 87

Magazine EN BLANCO nº 7. 2011
Published by General de Ediciones de Arquitectura, S.L. Valencia, Spain
ISSN: 1888-5616
Page: 54 – 71

Published by Berlin Studio e.V. - Instituto Cervantes Berlin - jovis Verlag GmbH. Berlin, Germany
ISBN: 978-3-86859-108-8
Page: 82 – 97 
Cavitá, concavitá e fori nell´archittetura contemporanea
Published by Gangemi Editore spa. Rome, Italy
Author: Gianpaola Spirito
ISBN: 978-88-492-2085-8
Page: 60
Magazine A+U nº 485. 2011
Published by a+u Published Co., Ltd. Tokyo, Japan
ISSN: 0389-9160
Interview Farrokh Derakhshani. 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Page: 62 – 63

Magazine ARQUITECTURA VIVA nº 133. 2011
Published by Arquitectura Viva S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0214-1256
Article: Madinat al-Zahra premio Aga Khan
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 2

Monograph AV MONOGRAFÍAS / MONOGRAPHS nº 146. 2010
Nieto & Sobejano 1999-2011
Published by Arquitectura Viva, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0213-487X
Article: Campo Arqueológico / Archaelological Grounds
Page: 38 – 49

Magazine VÍA CONSTRUCCIÓN nº 86. 2010
Published by Grupo Vía. Barcelona, Spain
Legal Deposit: GI-06-2003
Article: Nieto y Sobejano, Premio Aga Khan 2010 por Madinat
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 10

Magazine EL CULTURAL. 17.12.2010
Extra Newspaper El Mundo. Madrid, Spain
Article: El Museo Medina Azahara consagra a Nieto y Sobejano
Author: Rául del Valle
Page: 42 – 43

Newspaper EL MUNDO. 26.11.2010
Article: La elegancia de Nieto y Sobejano, Premio Aga Khan
Author: Antonio Lucas
Page: 56

Newspaper EL DÍA. 25.11.2010
Article: La nueva sede de Medina Azahara logra el Aga Khan de Arquitectura
Author: Ángela Alba
Page: 57

Newspaper CÓRDOBA. 25.11.2010
Article: El Museo de Medina Azahara logra el Aga Khan de Arquitectura
Author: Carmen Lozano
Page: 2 – 6

Newspaper ABC Córdoba. 25.11.2010
Article: El premio Aga Khan distingue la “Armonía” del museo de Medina Azahara
Author: L.M. Córdoba
Page: 83

Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Published by Lars Müller Published bys. Baden, Switzerland
ISBN: 978-3-03778-242-2
Page: 56 – 71

Magazine ARKITEKTEN nº 07. Vol 112. 2010
Published by Arkitektens Forlag. Copenhagen, Denmark
ISSN: 0004-198X
Article: Hvad Kan Robusthed?
Author: Michael Asgaard Andersen
Page: 38 – 39

Catalogue Exhibition UNA CIUDAD LLAMADA ESPAÑA. 2010
Published by Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior - Editorial Gustavo Gili, S.A. Barcelona, Spain                                                                                                                                                              Author: Manuel Blanco
ISBN: 9788425223815
Page: 312 – 315

Magazine ART nº 7. 2010
Published by Gruner + Jahr AG & Co KG. Hamburg, Germany
ISSN: 0173-2781
Article: Die Moderne spricht spanisch
Author: Till Briegleb
Page: 72 – 73

Magazine ZUR DEBATTE nº 3. 2010
Themen der Katholischen Akdemie in Bayern
Published by Katholischen Akademie un Bayern. Munich, Germany
ISSN: 0179-6658
Lecture Zwischen Gedächtnis und Erfindung. Zeitgenössische Architektur in Spanien
Page: 20 – 23

Architettura dei Musei 3
Published by Edilstampa SrL. Rome, Italy
ISSN: 0579-4900
Article: Museo e Centro di Ricerca a Cordova, Spagna
Author: Lina Malfona                                                                                                                                                          
Page: 46 – 53

Magazine DETAIL nº 3. 2010           
Published by Institut für internationale Architektur- Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG. Munich, Germany
ISSN: 0011-9571
Page: 134 – 136

Magazine DETAIL nº 2. 2010   
Published by Institut für internationale Architektur- Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG. Munich, Germany
ISSN: 0011-9571
Page: 119 – 121

Published by Taschen. Cologne, Germany                                                                                                               
Author: Philip Jodidio
ISBN: 978-3-8365-1223-7
Page: 266 – 279

Magazine C3 nº 304. 2009
Published by C3 Publishing Co. Seoul, Korea
ISSN: 1227-611101
Article: Echoes of the past
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 34 – 51

Magazine ON DISEÑO nº 305/306. 2009
Premios FAD 2009 / 2009 FAD Awards
Published by On Diseño, S.L. Barcelona, Spain
ISSN: 0210-2080
Page: 64 – 67

Magazine EL VIAJERO. 24.10.2009
Extra Newspaper El País. Madrid, Spain
Article: Cordobeses del siglo X
Author: Andrés Fernández Rubio
Page: 7

Newspaper EL CORREO DE ANDALUCÍA. 10.10.2009
Article: A mayor gloria de Abderramán III
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 45

Newspaper SUR. 10.10.2009
Article: Medina Azahara recupera su esplendor omeya
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 52

Newspaper CÓRDOBA. 10.10.2009
Article: Un escaparate del siglo XXI para una joya del X
Author: Antonio Rodríguez
Page: 8

Newspaper CÓRDOBA. 09.10.2009                                                                                                                          Special Issue
Article: Inauguración Centro de Interpretación Medina Azahara
Author: Antonio Rodríguez
Newspaper EL DÍA DE CÓRDOBA. 09.10.2009
Article: Medina Azahara, Siglo XXI
Author: Alfredo Asensi
Page: 46 – 47

Magazine AREA nº 104. 2009
Published by Il Sole 24 Ore Business Media srl. Milan, Italy
ISSN: 0394-0055
Page: 55 – 61

Magazine ON DISEÑO nº 303. 2009
Published by On Diseño, S.L. Barcelona, Spain
ISSN: 0210-2080
Page: 68 – 75

Magazine CASABELLA nº 778. 2009
Published by Arnoldo Mondadori. Milan, Italy
ISSN: 0008-7181
Article: Patti e ombre di Andalusia
Author: Alessandra Pizzochero
Page: 62 – 77

Magazine ARQUITECTURA IBÉRICA nº 31. 2009
Published by Caleidoscópio_Ediçáo e Artes Gráficas, S.A. Casal de Cambra. Portugal
ISSN: 1645-9415
Page: 86 – 103

Magazine THE ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW nº 1346. 2009
Published by Emap. London, UK
ISSN: 0003861X
Page: 76 – 83

Magazine DESCUBRIR EL ARTE nº 122. 2009
Published by Arlanza Ediciones, S.A. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1578-9047
Article: Un espacio en las entrañas de la tierra
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 61 – 64

Magazine EL CROQUIS nº 142. 2008
Prácticas Arquitectónicas / Architectural practices
Published by El Croquis Editorial. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0212-5633
Page: 6 – 81

Magazine AV MONOGRAFÍAS / MONOGRAPHS nº 129/130. 2008
España 2008 / Spain Yearbook
Published by Arquitectura Viva, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0213-487X
Page: 60 – 70

Magazine DB Deutsche Bauzeitung nº 11. 2008
Published by Konradin Medien GmbH. Leinfelden – Echterdingen, Germany
ISSN: 0721-1902
Article: Magie der Ortsspuren
Author: Jürgen Tietz
Page: 54 – 62

Magazine ARQUITECTURA VIVA nº 117. 2008                                                                   
Published by Arquitectura Viva, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0214-1256
Page: 7

Magazine BAUWELT nº 34. 2008
Published by Bertelsmann Springer Bauverlag GmbH. Gütersloh, Germany
ISSN: 0005-6855
Article: Die Architekten als Archäologen
Author: Andrés Fernández Rubio
Page: 18 – 25

Magazine PH nº 65. 2008
Boletín del Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico
Published by Consejería de Cultura, Junta de Andalucía. Sevilla, Spain
ISSN: 1136-1867
Page: 96 – 107

Newspaper CÓRDOBA. 20.12.2007
Article: El Museo de Medina Azahara reunirá cerca de 200 piezas emblemáticas
Author: Antonio Rodríguez
Page: 60

Published by Editorial Protiendas S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1888-8410
Page: 33 – 37

Magazine FUTURE ARQUITECTURAS nº 6. 2007
Published by Future Arquitecturas, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1885-8228
Page: 90 – 101

Published by Editorial Protiendas S.L. Madrid, Spain                                                                                                               
Legal Deposit: M-36556-2006
Article: Museo y Sede Institucional de Medina Azahara. Desenterrando la dinastía omeya
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 42 – 48

Newspaper EL DÍA. Córdoba. 22.10.2006
Article: La Sede Institucional de Medina Azahara llega al 80% de su ejecución
Author: Marisa Montes
Magazine MUS-A nº 3. 2004
Published by Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Cultura. Sevilla, Spain
ISSN: 1695-7229
Page: 50 – 55

Newspaper CÓRDOBA. 16.12.2003
Article: Acto de colocación de la primera piedra
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 55

Published by El Croquis Editorial. Madrid, Spain
ISBN: 9788488386250
Page: 606 – 619

Published by Editorial Rueda. Madrid, Spain
Authors: Fuensanta Nieto & Enrique Sobejano
ISBN: 84-7207-131-6

Magazine EL CROQUIS nº 106/107. 2001                                                                                                                  
En proceso / In progress
Published by El Croquis Editorial. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0212-5633
Page: 370 – 383

Magazine NEUTRA nº 5. 2000
Published by Neutra Editores, S.L. Sevilla, Spain
ISSN: 1138-1507
Page: 82 – 85

Magazine ARQUITECTURA VIVA nº 68. 1999
Published by Arquitectura Viva, S.L. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0214-1256
Page: 27   


Córdoba, Spain 1999-2009

European Museum of the Year Award. 2012
Finalist Prize Arquitectura Española.  2011
Piranesi Prix de Rome. 2011
Selected European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. 2011
Aga Khan Award for Architecture. 2010 
The International Architecture Award. The Chicago Athenaeum Museum. 2009
Finalist Prize Intervención en Patrimonio Arquitectónico Español. 2009
Finalist FAD Prize. 2009