The Seville City Hall has approved the planning for our proposal to pedestrianize the historic Plaza de la Magdalena in the centre of the city. The site of a former convent destroyed during the Napoleonic wars has been a focal point in the city over the last three centuries transforming itself from church to green space and which has been reduced to a large traffic roundabout which has saturated its former green space. Borgos Pieper together with the city´s Urbanism Department and the Water Authority (Emasesa) have developed a sensitive upgrading project which will start on site in September 2020.
The square, facing our five-star hotel for Radisson, has been pedestrianised and re-planned in order to offer 3,500m2 of public space, extended tree and planting cover as well as kiosks and café terraces with shading that will frame the historic central fountain. The regeneration of the hotel has become a catalyst for the plaza and has provided the impetus for the city hall to improve the square as part of a focused renewal strategy. Through our transformation of two existing buildings for new uses, we are recovering the “presence” of the past with its previous role as a social meeting point with two grand hotels that also reinforces the square´s enduring role as an open space in the dense city centre.
Our design approached the existing square by analysing the historic remnants of materials used – from pavers and river stones to low planting and tree cover. These we contrasted with the parks and gardens department as well as historical photographs to create a palette of materials that would best respond to their maintenance and cleaning regimes in order to ensure a consensus with the city authorities.
From this study local granite and Tarifa stone were sourced – in some cases recovered from the original square - in order to respect the past without forgoing the performance requirements of the square for today´s vehicular and event traffic. Lofty palm trees are recovered on the corners of the square while extended parterres are planted with ground cover planting and floral beds.
Through this delicate intervention with upgraded paving, drainage, lighting and landscaping the square is enabled to recover the life that had been given over to the automobile. Plaza de la Magdalena can once again provide space for a pause in daily life and play host to some of the distinguished Easter Week Processions which previously used it - creating a new dialogue (and juxtaposition) between the old and the new.
Photography: Joan Guillamat