San Sebastian, Spain 2005-2011



San Sebastian, Spain 2005-2011

Every architectural project carries within it the acknowledgment of the boundary as a concept, which determines its spatial and formal configuration. Whether the materialization of that boundary should occur in a clear or blurred manner, with strength or gentleness, expressing lightness or weight, is not a minor decision, because it reflects a specific stance when addressing the multiple discontinuities that contemporary cities face today. In a few cases these discontinuities are juxtaposed in a clear and yet harmonious way, as in the strip of land where Mount Urgull meets the historic center of San Sebastián: between nature and city; the horizontal plane and topographic elevation; land and sea; historical buildings and current ones. Perhaps for that reason the renovation and expansion of the San Telmo Museum, located at the confluence of the natural and urban landscapes, demanded not only a functional and volumetric adaptation to the program and place but, above all, a conscious architectural answer to the site’s frontier position. This approach, however, harbors a contradiction: the physical boundary tends to express its autonomy from an environment into which the building paradoxically also wishes to blend.
Our answer to this dilemma is represented by the image of a long, inhabited wall, whose plan evokes the distorted geometry of the cloister and the nearby military bastions where they meet the mountain. As an expression of a new discontinuity, the building/wall manifests the dualities -nature/artifice, contemporary sensibility/historical record- underlying the project. The old Dominican convent of San Telmo, built in the mid-sixteenth century, had undergone several alterations over the years. In the last one, in 1932, it was transformed into a museum, with new buildings added toward Zuloaga square and the hill, thus concealing the side façade of the temple. Our project proposed demolishing the structures attached to the original architecture -except for the one facing the plaza, which was already part of urban memory -as well as restoring the cloister, church, tower, and chapels, considered to be the most valuable elements of the historical building. The new extension includes the public areas of the museum: the lobby, assembly hall, shop, library, didactic rooms, and storage and service areas. The longitudinal and narrow volume located between the mountain and the existing chapels accommodates exhibition halls placed parallel to the church nave, thus reflecting a figurative dialogue between architectural spaces of different periods, scales, and material qualities.
The new building formalizes the idea that ends up gives meaning to every one of the material and conceptual aspects of the project: its shifts and changes in direction help to address the pedestrian ascent to Mount Urgull through a large staircase, to configure open-air exhibition spaces, and to define the museum’s new urban image. As an expression of the nature/artifice duality pervading the proposal, the building takes the form of a perforated metallic skin that allows for the growth of local vegetation species. This screen, developed in collaboration with the artists Leopoldo Ferrán and Agustina Otero through a combination of cast aluminum pieces designed for this occasion, is thus transformed into an unprecedented intervention that acknowledges the role of architecture vis-à-vis public art. The appearance of the new San Telmo Museum expansion will change according to the seasons, melding into the vegetation of Mount Urgull or asserting its independence in a long, unfinished, zigzagging wall: an unexpected metaphor of the imprecise boundary where architecture and city meet the landscape.


San Sebastian, Spain 2005-2011

San Sebastián, Spain
Municipality of San Sebastián
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Fuensanta Nieto, Enrique Sobejano
Artistic intervention in façade
Leopoldo Ferrán, Agustina Otero
Restoration of sixteenth-century convent and museum expansion
Total floor area
11.067 m2
Project architect
Miguel Ubarrechena
Project team
Stephen Belton, Patricia Grande, Pedro Guedes, Joachim Kraft, Juan Carlos Redondo, Alexandra Sobral
Site supervision
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Fuensanta Nieto, Enrique Sobejano
Miguel Mesas Izquierdo
Structural engineer
N.B.35, S.L.
Mechanical engineer
R. Úrculo Ingenieros Consultores, S.A.
Fire prevention consultant
3i Ingeniería Industrial, S.L.
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Juan de Dios Hernández -Jesús Rey
Aurofoto, S.L. (models)
Roland Halbe    
Fernando Alda 
Project dates
Competition: 2005
Design: 2006
Completion: 2011



San Sebastian, Spain 2005-2011

Published by The Architectural Publisher B. Copenhagen, Demark
ISBN: 978-87-92700-37-7
Page: 60 – 67
Magazine REVISTA DE MUSEOLOGÍA nº 83. 2022
Published by Asociación Española de Museólogos. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1134-0576
Page: 82 – 83
Book LANDSCAPE FOR ARCHITECTS. LANDSCAPE FOR ARCHITECTS. PAISAJE PARA ARQUITECTOS. 2020                                                                    
Published by Birkhäuser Verlag GmbH. Basel, Switzerland
ISBN: 978-3-0356-1676-7  
Monograph TC CUADERNOS nº 131/132. 2017
Published by General de Ediciones de Arquitectura. Valencia, Spain
ISBN: 978-84-947421-4-9 
Page: 198 – 227
Magazine IA&B. INDIAN ARCHITECT & BUILDER nº 29. 2015
Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on Behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt Ltd. Mumbai, India
ISSN: 0971-5509
Page: 72 – 79

Published by Institut für internationale Architektu - Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG. Munich, Germany
ISBN: 978-3-95553-247-5
Page: 80 – 84

Catalogue BIA — AR. PRINCIPIOS. Bienal de Arquitectura de Argentina. 2014
Published by Scalae & Bismanediciones. Buenos Aires, Argentina
ISBN: 978-987-3779-02-2
Page: 100 – 101

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: 48 – 53

Published by Hatje Cantz Verlag. Ostfildern, Germany
Authors: Fuensanta Nieto & Enrique Sobejano
ISBN: 978-3-7757-3619-0
Page: 92 – 109 

Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2013
Published by Foundation MieS van der Rohe. Barcelona, Spain
ISBN: 978-87-936901-8-2
Page: 182 – 189

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

Estando la mar por medio
Published by Caja de Arquitectos. Barcelona, Spain
ISBN: 978-84-939409-7-3
Page: 134 – 143

Magazine ECOLOGIK nº 28. 2012
Published by Ávivre éditions. Paris, France
ISSN: 1961-7267
Article: Par delá la colline / Over the hill
Author: Marion le berre
Page: 132 – 140

Published by Fernando Villaverde Ediciones, S.L. Madrid, Spain
Author: Antonio Ruiz Barbarin & Antxon Hernández
ISBN: 978-84-615-9323-1
Article: Museo de San Telmo, San Sebastián: una escalera al monte
Page: 78 – 79

Magazine T+A. Time + Architecture nº 126. 2012
Published by Tongji University Press. Shanghai, China
ISSN: 1005-684X
Article: Places and Boundary
Author: CAI Wei
Page: 146 – 153

Magazine A+U nº 502. 2012
Published by a+u Published Co., Ltd. Tokyo, Japan
ISSN: 0389-9160
Article: Architecture and Urbanism. Four Practices in Madrid
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 50 – 79

Magazine ZEPPELIN nº 104. 2012
Published by Asociata Zeppelin & Q-Group Proiect. Bucarest, Romania
ISSN: 2069-721X
Article: Peretele Verde. A wall with Greenery
Author: Stefan Tuchila
Page: 28 – 39

Magazine AMC Le Moniteur Architecture nº 216. 2012
Published by Groupe Moniteur SAS. Paris, France
ISSN: 0998-4194
Article: Nieto Sobejano Musée San Sebastian
Author: Editorial Board
Page: 76

Magazine D’ARCHITECTURES nº 207. 2012
Published by Société d’éditions architectureales SARL. Paris, France
ISSN: 1145-0835
Article: Un mur vert de 150 mètres. Interview Enrique Sobejano
Author: Doris Kleilein et Niels Balhausen
Page: 74 – 83

Magazine BAUMEISTER nº 109. 2012
Published by Verlag Georg D.W. Callwey GmbH. K.G. Munich, Germany
ISSN: 0005-674X
Page: 42 – 51

Magazine ON DISEÑO nº 324. 2011
Published by On Diseño, S.L. Barcelona, Spain
ISSN: 0210-2080
Page: 46 – 53

Magazine THE PLAN nº 52. 2011
Published by Centauro srl. Bologna, Italy
ISSN: 1720-6553
Page: 51 – 56

Magazine MATERIA nº 72. 2011
Published by Il Sole 24 Ore S.p.A. Milan, Italy
ISSN: 1121-0516
Page: 92 – 103

Published by Braun Publishing AG. Salenstein, Switzerland
ISBN: 978-3-03768-092-6
Page: 228 – 231

Magazine ARCHICRÉÉ nº 354. 2011
Published by Société d’Edition et de Presse. Paris, France
ISSN: 02948567
Page: 58 – 63

Magazine ORIS nº 72. 2011
Published by Arhitekst. Zagreb, Croatia
ISSN: 1331-7571
Article: Dramatic Juxtaposition of Old and New in a Basque Museum
Author: Michael Webb
Page: 44 – 55

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 DETAIL nº 12. 2011      
Published by Institut für internationale Architektur - Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG. Munich, Germany
ISSN: 0011-9571
Page: 1414 – 1419

Magazine ARQUINE nº 57. 2011
Published by Arquine S.A. de CV. Mexico
ISSN: 1405-6151
Page: 32 – 41

Magazine CERCHA nº 108. 2011
Published by MUSAAT-PREMAAT and Consejo Gral. de Colegios de Aparejadores y Arquitectos Técnicos de España. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 9943-7376
Page: 16 – 27

Published by Jovis Verlag GmbH. Berlin, Germany
Author: Tanja Kullack
ISBN: 978-3-86859-086-9
Page: 96 – 103

Magazine CASABELLA nº 803. 2011
Published by Arnoldo Mondadori. Milan, Italy
ISSN: 0008-7181
Article: Costruire attraveso il tempo e le stagioni
Author: Giovanna Crespi
Page: 14 – 25

Magazine SURFACE nº 89. 2011
Published by Sandow Media LLC. Florida, USA
ISBN: 1091-806X
Page: 42 – 43

Magazine EA. Envolvente Arquitectónica nº 1. 2011
Published by Esinal. Guipúzcoa, Spain
Legal Deposit: SS-653-98
Page: 44 – 56

Magazine URUK nº 2. 2011
Published by Urukmag. Catania, Italy
Page: 46 – 47

Magazine C3 nº 322. 2011
Published by C3 Publishing Co. Seoul, Korea
ISSN: 1227-611101
Page: 76 – 89

Magazine BAUWELT nº 22. 2011
Published by Bertelsmann Springer Bauverlag GmbH. Gütersloh, Germany
ISSN: 0005-6855
Article: 150 Meter grüne Wand. Interview Enrique Sobejano
Author: Doris Kleilen
Page: Cover, 12 – 21

Magazine AIT nº 5. 2011
Published by Alexander Koch GmbH. Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany
ISSN: 0173-8046
Page: 15

Magazine HÄUSER nº 3. 2011
Published by Gruner + Jahr AG & Co KG. Hamburg, Germany
ISSN: 0724-6528    
Page: 14

Magazine MD nº 4. 2011
Published by Konradin Verlag. Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany
ISSN: 0343-0642
Page: 68 – 71

Newspaper EL DIARIO VASCO. 27.02.2011
Artilce: San Telmo habla de ti. Los Idiáquez, los dominicos, un cuartel y la dama Fuensanta                                                                                                                                                          
Author: Mitxel Ezquiaga
Page: 51 – 53

Magazine METAMORPHOSE nº 1. 2011                                                                                                                                       Published by Konradin Medien GmbH. Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany
ISSN: 1868-4114
Article: Dem Felsen abgetrotzt
Author: Claudia Hildner
Page: 13

Catologue Exhibition ESPAÑA (f.) nosotras, las ciudades. 2008
Published by Ministerio de Vivienda. Madrid, Spain – CA-Group. Shanghai, China
ISBN: 84-96387-18-6
Page: 214 – 219

Published by América Ibérica. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 1575-1937
Page: 16 – 18

Magazine EL CROQUIS nº 136/137. 2007
Sistemas de Trabajo (II) / Work System (II)
Published by El Croquis Editorial. Madrid, Spain
ISSN: 0212-5633
Article: Arquitectura Concreta / Concrete Architecture
Page: 236 – 245

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

Newspaper EL DIARIO VASCO. 14.04.2007
Article: Cuenta  atrás para el nuevo San Telmo
Author: Ricardo Aldarondo
Page: 72 – 73

Catalogue Exhibition INTERFERENCIAS. 2006
Published by Galería Astarté. Madrid, Spain
Page: 67 – 71

Newspaper EL DIARIO VASCO. 25.02.2006
Article: En la ampliación de San Telmo el reto es estar a la altura del paisaje
Author: Teresa Flaño
Page: 74 – 75

Magazine TC CUADERNOS nº 71. 2006
Concursos                                                                                                                                                                    Published by Ediciones Generales de la Construcción. Valencia, Spain
ISBN: 1136-906X
Page: 148 – 151

Newspaper EL MUNDO. País Vasco. 1.02.2006
Article: Elorza agradece el apoyo de la ministra en San Telmo
Author: Idota Arraiza
Page: 16

Newspaper EL DIARIO VASCO. 1.02.2006
Article: Elorza pide al Gobierno Vasco que entre en el Proyecto de San Telmo pero sin cambiarlo
Author: A.M.
Page: 79

Newspaper EL DIARIO VASCO. 16.07.2005
Article: San Telmo tendrá dos nuevos pabellones bajo Urgull que estarán ocultos por un muro vegetal
Author: Teresa Flaño
Page: 80 – 81


San Sebastian, Spain 2005-2011

Finalist Architizer A+ Award. 2013

Prize VIII Bienal Iberoamericana de Arquitectura y Urbanismo. 2012

Selected AIT Award Category Public Building. 2012

Prize Wan Awards 21 for 21. 2011