Two Caves

designed by /

Location: Spain / Type: Bridges and Piers / Infrastructure / Built: 2002 / 2006 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on October 25, 2011

Interior And Access Refurbishing for Public Use.
Karst Complex Natural Monument Ojo Guareña.
T. M. De Cueva. Merindad De Sotoscueva (Burgos).



Design: Manuel Fonseca Gallego. Architect.
Promoter: Junta de Castilla y León. Consejería de Medio Ambiente, en colaboración la Consejería de Educación y Cultura.
Work managers: Santiago Cid Cuartero. Architect. Jesús Rodríguez Jiménez. Architectural Technician.
Construction: Empresa de Transformación Agraria, S. A. (TRAGSA) Área de Burgos.
Project Date: December 2000.
Completion Date: July 2002.
Budget: 238.500,79 €
Text translation: Antonio Guijarro García. Architect.

The Karst Complex of Ojo Guareña, declared “Natural Monument”, is, due to its 110 km trail, the second largest in Spain and can be included among the ten largest in the world. Besides having a high caving value, inside there have been collected samples from all cultures: engravings, rock paintings, ceramic and weapon remains, resulting into spectacular geological formations, such as chasms, galleries, underground lakes and unique fauna specimens.

The Romanesque chapel of St. Tirso and St. Bernabé (XII) was declared a Historic Artistic Monument in 1970 and is the first glimpse of the environment near the access. Its single nave, takes advantage of a natural vault with curious murals of St. Tirso´s martyrdoms and St. Tirso´s and San Bernabe´s miracles dated between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and shelters the visitor into a highlight of the inside tour.

As a result of last year´s demand increase in the number of visits to the Cave and the Chapel (the area with greatest potential public use development in the gallery complex), a conditioning activity for public use was needed , one that would optimize the facilities, since they didn´t reunite enough requirements for safe and controlled use. In rainy seasons, substrate turns into a quagmire because of frequent leaks, and in dry seasons, fine dust generates a stifling atmosphere. It was intended to solve these critical points, altering as little as possible its original configuration and respecting the archaeological cave levels:
– Controlled trails inside
– Lighting installations
– Security

In addition, an adaptation of the City Hall Room was made (named like this until 1924) and the cave´s access providing a new enclosure. Nearby they designed a place for access control and information, as well as a storage area for supplies and equipment. At the end of the trail there is an area where the height decreases in such a way that the gateway is directly supported on the ground. In other areas where the slope is too high descending and immediately rising sharply, the gateway keeps with a uniform slope, thus resulting into an 80 cm. average raising over the lowest point of the terrain. The lighting along the trail stands in the railing, made with optical fiber, changing its intensity in order to enhance the milestones that are interesting to show in the guide tour, but trying to maintain a sense of semi-darkness, guiding the visitor subtly. This railing has an independent design from the trail´s platform, becoming a freer path.

Interior And Access Refurbishing For Public Use.
Cave-Chasm From La Serreta. Unesco World Heritage Site.
Almadenes Canyon. Segura River. Cieza (Murcia).


Design: Manuel Fonseca Gallego. Architect.
Promoter: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Región de Murcia, Ayuntamiento de Cieza.
Work manager: José María Domínguez Ibáñez. Ph.D Agricultural Engineer.
Construction: Empresa de Transformación Agraria, S. A. (TRAGSA). Delegación Territorial de Murcia.
Project date: February 2002.
Completion date: March 2006.
Text translation: Antonio Guijarro García. Architect.

La Serreta cave-chasm has been declared Cultural Interest by the Spanish Historical Heritage Act of 1985 and a World Heritage Site by Unesco Act of 1998, as part of the whole rock art in the Spanish Mediterranean area. This is one of the most important archaeological sites in Murcia, both for its spectacular landscape and for the remains found inside. It has been refurbished for public use in order to expose the remains found inside, which go back from prehistory to the present. On its walls, there are well preserved, schematic, semi naturalistic cave paintings from the post-Palaeolithic period (5000-4000 BC). At its corners, Argaric tools have been found, remains of two Roman houses (third century AD), assuming the only roman peninsular cave-habitat known and evidence that attests its use as a shelter for livestock since Islamic Middle Ages (ss. X-XII). These different levels of cultural occupation make it a Rock Art Sanctuary, a Neolithic habitat and a late Roman shelter.

The solution seeks to minimize the contact with the walls in order to alter the existing remains as least as possible, also exploiting the excellent interpretative conditions of this unique space, enhancing the incredible views over the canyon with the addition of a viewpoint over the void. Only two materials are used: steel and wood, which dialogue with the stony environment and allow the contemplation of the wonderful existing paintings and the remains of a Roman villa, through the creation of platforms connected by step flights that cover the strong slope, culminating in the route’s final viewpoint platform. Signalling elements are designed as an integrated part in the set. The access has been designed as a closed box that enables the place’s protection and identification when it’s open. From this element, several flights of metal stairs descent to the cave’s base incorporating flights of wooden stairs on the rock strata, running along the most relevant areas. The intervention is complemented by the incorporation of solar panels that enable self sufficient-illumination in the path’s dark areas. During the course of the work, and due to its special characteristics and conditions, we decided to continue the path in order to create the final platform, focusing on the spectacular canyon, regardless of the other suggested by the archaeological team.

One thought on "Two Caves by Manuel Fonseca Gallego"

  1. Antonio Guijarro says:

    Sutile, delicate and sensible intervention. Designed with a great respect for nature and the place it stands in. A perfect example of architecture made to experiment the enviroment´s beauty.

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