MUPAC, Cantabria Prehistory and Archaeology Museum and Office Building


Santander (Cantabria), 2019

The proposal is inspired in the two typical Paleolithic proto-architectures, the rock shelter and the cave. These two spaces —exterior and interior— will give to the museum the identity and representation the city of Santander requires. First, a GREAT PLAZA —the rock shelter— protected from the rain through a transparent marquee, which generates a covered open space and gives to the museum the public character and connection to the city it needs. Second, an underground MUSEUM —the cave— built in massive concrete which grants a stable atmosphere where art pieces have the specific hygro-thermic conservation conditions they require. On top, a wooden office building completes the proposal.

Both buildings, museum and offices, have a complementary performance which guarantees low energy consumptions throughout the year. When both programs have opposite heating and cooling demands —e.g. in a sunny Spring day when office space needs cooling and the underground museum needs heating— the energy balance of both programs is zero: the heat the office buildings dissipates can be introduced in the museum. This climatic performance is reinforced by the spatial structure and the materiality of both programs:

1) An underground museum which takes advantage of the thermal stability of the terrain and of Santander’s bay, and which is built in concrete —which provides thermal inertia— and activated through radiant systems.

2) A timber-frame office building built on top of the museum. Its exposition to the sun and the wind, added to its low thermal-inertia materiality, makes it a perfect match to the massive museum on which it sits.

The building’s materiality is connected to the Cantabria mountains where the acknowledged network of paleolithic caves is located. This territorial connection between the building and the mountains is an ecological strategy which proposes that the material logistcs of the building come from the Cantabria region, reducing energy budget and stimulating the local economy.


Location: Santander (Cantabria)

Date: 2019

Client: Consejería de Cultura, Gobierno de Cantabria

Area: 25.800 m²

Project architects: TAAs (Javier García-Germán + Alia García-Germán)

Project team: Javier García-Germán, Alia García-Germán, Juan Garcia Segovia, Mario Nistal, Alberto Pajares, Guillermo Perales

Consultants: Úrculo Ingenieros, Bernabeu Ingenieros

Renders: Unboxed Visuals

Quantity Surveyor: ARETÉ AT arquitectos técnicos s.l.p.

Budget: 38.700.000 €