The New Gastronomical Innovation Center, designed by Oscar Abrahamsson and Jacob Waas at SCI Arc, is a speculative proposal for the El Bulli Research Campus in Cala Montjoi, Catalonia that explores complex systems and baroque geometry as tools in creating an artificial rival to nature.

Our project addresses its relationship to the rural countryside left behind by urbanization and long excluded from the architectural discourse. Instead of trying to imitate or integrate the romantic notions of the “natural”, we are embracing the rapid and radical change of the European countryside – with the understanding that the countryside of today is without doubt man-made – not natural.

We are showcasing the artificiality by withdrawing from the surroundings and turning inward, to create a discrete an internalized world for El Bulli gastronomy. This internalized world is designed to enable El Bulli to not only to house its research and production but to also allow the research and production to affect the built environment.

Our system is derived from the Baroque geometry of Francesco Borromini that is employed at different intensities and scales throughout the building using different computational systems operating at mulitple scales. At the large scale, taking from the platonic geometry of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, a series of delaminated volumes are nested within an exterior envelope, sometimes tightly fit, and sometimes loosely fit; creating interstitial spaces that fit the programmatic function of this live-research-education facility. The interstitial space becomes a separation of the world and the interior. At certain points, the interior system breaks through and dissolves the envelope, exposing the intricate shapes of the internal volume. The separations of the different layers are never discrete, but they interweave with each other, always indexing each other in different ways.

The outcome is a building that is based on architectural relationships, but exhibits intricacies usually associated with systems found in nature, thus it creates a cross breed of (synthetically) organic complexity and architectural intention. This is an attempt of questioning the romantic notion of what is “natural” but also an attempt of incorporating the current technological tools that, at a root level, can manipulate geometries to achieve mulitiple intensities of detail.

The corruptive interior system, producing an eroding effect on the figure of architecture, creates cavities and niches that provide a surface for the cultivation required by the El Bulli research. By integrating and informing our systems with systems of organic matter, we want to obscure the relationship between a synthetic nature and the organic, between the living and the non-living.

Design: Oscar Abrahamsson, Jacob Waas.
Instructor: M. Casey Rehm.


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