CISC Marine Research Institute

Masterplan for the relocation of the research centre to the former ETEA in Vigo

RIA’s experience in establishing links between productive sectors, the scientific community and public administration, as well as designing strategies for sustainable development and urban regeneration, allowed it to advise and coordinate the process, encouraging the participation of all the agents involved and developing the public communication of this project.

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)


Team and collaborators
Fundación RIA


Teis, Vigo

In 2012, the Xunta de Galicia approved the Sectorial Land Use Plan of the Scientific-Technological Campus of the Sea for the land of the School of Transmissions and Electricity of the Navy (ETEA), in Vigo. With this plan, the former military lands change their use to promote the creation of a marine research campus capable of hosting various institutions. The IIM, one of the centres of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), is the first institution to be established on one of the ETEA plots.

The space needs of the IIM, the projection of future growth and the potential to generate synergies with other institutions, drive the CSIC and the Ministry to fund this project, which aims to launch a process open to other institutions present in the city of Vigo, such as the Faculty of Marine Sciences of the UVigo, the CETMAR, the IEO or the European Fisheries Agency.

For these reasons, this project, of special relevance for the IIM, the CSIC, the city of Vigo and Galicia in general, was to be developed with great attention, taking advantage of all the opportunities present.

Fundación RIA is developing a study on the first phase of the IIM relocation project. The aim of the assignment is to analyse the project framework and to draw up a planning proposal that guarantees the integration of the new set of buildings into the natural, urban and social environment, responding appropriately to the programmatic needs of the IIM.

Vigo, a marine research pole

The IIM’s new location will be the former Ríos naval base, located in the working-class neighbourhood of Teis. Created in 1916, it became the Navy’s School of Transmissions and Electricity (ETEA) in the 1950s. The area covers 100,000m² and houses 30 buildings totalling 30,000m² constructed, as well as jetties and former powder magazines.

The relocation of the IIM allows it to grow from the current 200 employees to 350, as well as to link up with other institutions such as the University of Vigo and research centres.

The CSIC Marine Technology Unit, the body in charge of the logistics and technological management of the four CSIC oceanographic research vessels, and the Spanish Atlantic Base will be located in the same area. Therefore, the IIM’s aim is for the new location to become a pole of international reference in marine research, fostering technology transfer to the sectors involved and promoting the dissemination of marine sciences in society, on a local, regional, national and international scale.

The IIM, established in Vigo in 1951, is the most important CSIC marine research centre in the Atlantic and is a reference centre in Galicia.

Preliminary studies

The project begins with a study of the IIM programme, the facilities and uses present, identifying and characterising the different types of spaces and their functional relationships.

This work is complemented with an analysis of the ETEA and its surroundings, recognising its environmental and heritage values, and conducting an analysis of the Ríos neighbourhood that focuseson its urban and social structure. At the same time, a study of the regulatory framework (PXOM, Sectorial Plan and Sectorial Project) that defines the conditions of occupation of the plot is carried out.

In order to get to know the day-to-day dynamics of the centre and the main difficulties encountered by the staff during their work, three visits were made to meet with representatives of research groups and services. In this way, the CSIC has a base of objective and contrasted information with the centre’s staff that contributes to defining the technical specifications of the possible architectural competition, as well as subsequently evaluating the proposals submitted.

Development proposal

The proposal begins with the arrangement of the volumes and uses on the plot. This process prioritized meeting the identified needs of IIM staff and activities and the thoughtful integration of the buildings into the environment.

From the surveys and the visits carried out, it was concluded that it is necessary to increase the office and laboratory areas in order to improve the functioning of the centre. It is also necessary to provide storage space in order to free the workspaces and passageways from machines and cupboards. This measure, together with the adoption of a rational and compact distribution scheme, will improve the current conditions at Bouzas.

Given the budgetary situation, it is necessary for the new complex to be built sequentially, allowing the quality of the building to be maintained in all its phases in accordance with what is required of a research centre of this nature.

The first phase should integrate the spaces with the highest requirements for facilities, such as aquariums, pilot plant, special rooms, etc. From these, the rest of the rooms are configured, specifically offices, laboratories and warehouses. This criterion in the first phase allows the IIM to grow and undertake subsequent phases without affecting the core of the research.

In the following phases of growth, once the basic needs of the IIM have been met, it is proposed to fill the building area with the incorporation of more flexible, open-plan, low-tech spaces that could initially be occupied by a hive of companies, start-ups, spin-offs or consolidated companies with an agreement with the IIM.

Architecture competition

The architectural competition for the new IIM headquarters organised by the CSIC is based on the planning work of Fundación RIA described above, by carrying out an analysis of the functional needs and urban conditions of the area, with the participation of research groups, social agents and related institutions.

Fundación RIA also contributes to the publication of this competition by preparing an informative document aimed at potential participants, describing its historical, territorial and research context, and summarising information of interest: fees, prizes, timetable and requirements for participation.

The winning project of the competition was developed by the Navarre-based Pereda Pérez Arquitectos and MRM Arquitectos. The jury highlighted aspects of their proposal such as the enhancement of the existing heritage, the good adaptation to the topography of the plot-reducing the landscape impact of the complex-or the use of economical construction solutions with materials that are easy to maintain.

As a culmination of the competition, an exhibition was held at the ETEA in July 2023 in which the local community was able to see all the submissions and interface with the IIM and the CSIC to better understand the work they had done, as well as understand the importance an international reference centre for marine research will have for the future of Vigo and Galicia.

For more information on the process, please consult the competition dossier.