The project designed by Francisco Sáenz de Oiza is a response to the simplicity pursued by the architect, who was concerned to harmonise the balance between content and container. An aim that was stated by the architect himself when he made it clear that, “the Foundation cannot lapse into the contradiction of producing a sculpture to contain sculptures. The more elementary and simple it is; the more monumental the sculptures will be that are displayed inside it”.
This concept of the non-monumental nature of architecture, and of simplicity conceived as being to serve the work of art, led the author to consider this building to be the result of “inverting the traditional religious temple”, according to his writings. “In churches, the stained-glass windows light up the central nave, while the secondary light reaches the side naves; as a result of this the light is stronger in the place which is more important in a religious sense: the altar faces east. I have aimed to do completely the opposite: a secular temple in which the light is received by the sides and enters the centre against the light, so that this space is dark and mysterious. This idea is linked to the memories of the tunnel that Oteiza worked in (in Arantzazu), which was a poorly lit place, but which had a mysterious charm”.
The architectural project developed by Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza is a response to the generic idea of structuring an interrelated series of spaces with a wide variety of sizes, dominated by a central prominent area, whose size recalls the tunnel that the artist passed through in Arantzazu when he carved the statues that mark the Shrine. This highly mysterious central area structures how the other rooms are laid out, as they have been conceived to house all of Jorge Oteiza’s experimental work and to function in accordance with the spiritual and metaphysical eaning of his research on emptiness and the vacating of geometric shapes.
The building rises up on the southern slope of Alzuza like a concrete cube tinged with red, crowned by three enormous prismatic skylights. On the inside there is a remarkable series of different spaces that are revealed by the various places where light enters the Museum.
Another basic feature of the building is the way that it is onnected to the artist’s original home, which is now defined as a House-workshop. This infrastructure is connected by a glazed gallery that interconnects these two areas, and maintains the facade and internal structure of the house as living evidence of the years that Oteiza lived in this village. These two structures are connected harmoniously, so that they reveal a small patio that conserves the memory of the sculptor’s primitive workshop.