Thematic essays through
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Architecture – Objects
Through Building side tables: A look
inside an old 17th century convent
Walking through the rooms that today exhibit an extensive Contemporary Art collection, makes it hard to imagine that one day in those spaces was where tasks of an orchard house in Cuenca were developed.
We explore the architectural piece which during several centenaries was the convent of a group of cloistered nuns, the home of women who belonged to Carmelita Order in Spain. The same building that today has become a unique museum space that collect works of the most relevant Spanish artists in Contemporary Art scene of recent years, the Museum Fundación Antonio Pérez.
Going into this masterpiece means discovering a continuous space with labyrinthine path, in which each person chooses a way of their own. Sometimes it's easy to get carried away by the appeal of eccentric art works, sometimes curiosity guides you through the unexpected corners.
Photography & words by
Side tables for Skagerak
Vases for D&M Depot
Feel free to explore yourself the labyrinthine path:
1) Balconies opened to Hoz del Huécar
2) Old pantries
3) Patio, antic garden
4) Entrace to old kitchen and oven
5) Leisure area
6) Attic to storage wheat
8) Access to the church
9) Nun's private rooms
10) Walls that housed the generous garden
11) Cloister opens to Hoz del Huécar
The singularity of the hill meant that its architect, Fray Alberto de la Madre de Dios, had to overcome the unevenness of the land and at the same time take advantage of them.
'is a building of closed facades and only opened in the front side of the inner cloister it has'
The antic convent is a building of closed facades and only opened in the front side of the inner cloister it has. Its opening towards Hoz del Huécar brings a great luminosity. A fickle light comes in from there, it turns the building into a place of unique and changeable spatial perceptions.
The light goes through the balconies that surround the central part of the monastic building, a cloister with Castilian Renaissance features. Natural bright is mixed with the dimly lit of many rooms and interior recesses. The path is lined with terracotta floors, heterogeneous white walls and wooden beams. They make the austere and simple character with which the edifice was built remains intact.
From the first rooms, of solid construction and elegant outline, easily a small and humble courtyard is reached. It is the patio that once was a garden, the nucleus around which a set of adobe houses were created. These would be the primitive rooms of the convent where were distributed the quarters of a huerta home. Some were pantries that took advantage of the freshness of a floor below the street level and into them it was stored products from the garden, such as potatoes or onions. Others were warehouses for firewood and farm tools or just old laundries with stone fountains.
'it was stored products from the garden, such
as potatoes or onions'
By the stairs that formerly led to the garden, it is possible go up to the first floor and find the rooms that were leisure areas. In the highest part of this lengthy stairs, a bizarre room opens up, its large balcony overlooks the green landscape of Hoz del Huécar. There, where a large fireplace is governing the room, it's easy to imagine that this room was once a kitchen and later an oven.
When you think that you are immersed in a labyrinth of rooms and stairs, appears a room that magnetically attracts. Today the walls of this one are covered with the dramatic volumes and intense black of large-scale works of the Canarian artist Manolo Millares. On the ceilings the wooden beams are exposed, probably of sabina wood. At the back of the room a remarkable overhead light arises. Because of the absence of windows in this place, it's inevitable wonder where does that natural light comes from. There, under that beam of light, you discover an adjacent room with an impressive timber network. From this position it's revealed the highest area of the building, the one that was the attic warehouse where the nuns kept wheat.
On this floor, the second above the street level, there is a room with multiple balconies from which the cloister can be seen. The atmosphere of tranquillity that is breathed here recalls to the library once was on this spot, it was close to the stairs leading to the chicken coop.
All the construction secures the foundation on pure rock. The building lies down on the rock and it gains space to the same precipice. The result is a set of houses that lean on the rock, stick out and seem to fly over the escarpment. This is a distinctive fact of Cuenca, a city built for defense on top of a hill, which sits isolated on its overwhelming rock surrounded by two rivers.
The result is a set of houses that lean on the rock, stick out and seem to fly over the escarpment.
The bountiful water of an outdoor land located in low levels of the building, allowed this one became a generous garden. There some trees, plants and flowers gave freedom and recreation moments to the nuns who lived in the convent until XX century.