BIG Designs Proposal for Culinary Research and Innovation Hub in San Sebastian, Spain
Selected among five invited architects including OMA, Snøhetta, 3XN, and Toyo Ito & Associates., the BIG-designed building for the Basque Culinary Center, is a new food tech hub located in San Sebastian, Spain. The Gastronomy Open Ecosystem (GOe) is in fact a 9,000 m2 project that seeks to push forward the art and science of gastronomic innovation, bringing together food start-ups, researchers, and chefs. Currently in progress, the building will focus on the development of alternative proteins, agricultural robotics, the prevention of food waste, and much more.
Nestled between the edges of San Sebastian and mount Ulia, on a terrain with a 10-meter height difference, the Gastronomy Open Ecosystem, or GOe, is “conceived as an architectural extension of the dramatic landscape and cityscape,” as explained by Bjarke Ingels , Founder and Creative Director of BIG. Liberating the field, the proposed design named “Olatuen bidea – Camino de las Olas” rises from the ground floor, providing parks on the roof to invite the public life of the city to engage with the art and science of gastronomy.
Creating connections to the adjacent Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route and the Cantabrian Sea, the intervention enhances the existing quality of the site, and establishes the building as a meeting point between culture, gastronomy, and the city. Taking on different open spaces, the winning proposal puts in place a covered public plaza at the street level, and a series of terraces and recessed windows displaying the activity in the kitchens, labs, and classes to the public.
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GOe – Gastronomy Open Ecosystem […] is a space in which talent, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship converge with the aim of becoming an international benchmark that will explore the limits and future of gastronomy. BIG’s proposal “Olatuen bidea – Camino de las Olas” represents GOe’s open, collaborative, and participatory spirit. A building that is not only integrated into the city but also generates new spaces for dialogue and connection. –Joxe Mari Aizega, General Director of the Basque Culinary Center
The Basque Culinary Center, a pioneering gastronomic institution, launched the international design competition for the new food innovation hub back in 2021. Seeking to bridge “science, gastronomy, entrepreneurship, and nature to promote culinary research, innovation, and enjoyment”, the Gastronomy Open Ecosystem will have the “potential to become a destination in its own right for culinary pilgrims from around the world,” according to Bjarke Ingels.
Starting from the modularity of an optimal kitchen, we configured the new GOe and its public and private programs as a grid – the facade is carried to the roof extending the landscape and the buildings many public spaces and exterior programs in a continuous motion. Gently waving up from the ground, GOe will be a good neighbor and citizen in San Sebastian, offering a window into global gastronomic discovery while creating new public spaces, plazas, parks, and views– João Albuquerque, Partner, BIG Barcelona.
In terms of configuration, daily users and visitors will enter directly into the Gastro Hall, a central space, open from the ground floor all the way to the roof. A grand staircase will connect all programs and levels within the building, doubling as an amphitheater for events and lectures. Visitors will be able to observe the showcase kitchens and ongoing research. While public programs use natural materials such as wood, kitchens and laboratories use industrial materials for hygiene and maintenance. Finally, to offer maximum flexibility, the design generated open classrooms, laboratories, and kitchens that can be rearranged for different purposes.
- Yam: Olatuen Bidea – Path of the Waves
- Size: 9,090 m2 / 97,000 sq. ft
- Customer: Basque Culinary Center Foundation
- Location: San Sebastian, Spain
- Collaborators: Gleeds (cost consultants), Tricon (kitchen consultants), Play-Time & Fusao (Visuals)
- Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Joao Albuquerque
- Project Leader: matthew reger
- Team: Gonzalo Coronado, José Gómez, Klaudia Szczepanowska, Natalia Politano, Pietro Saccardi, Hanna Johansson, Wiktoria Kolakowska
- BIG Landscape: Laura Font Gallart
- BIG Engineering: Andrea Hektor, Johan Lindqvist
- BIG Sustainability: Tore Banke, Cosmin Paduraru