A further step towards the opening of the former ETEA to the citizenship

Fundación RIA

Fundación RIA
September 2023
Published in the magazine of the Teis Neighbourhood Association

Following the invitation of the Teis Neighbourhood Association to participate in their magazine, the RIA team reflects on the importance of planning in the future headquarters of the CSIC Marine Research Institute in Riós and the development of this process.

The towns and cities of Galicia suffer from the results of poorly planned urban developments in recent decades. Not all of these developments are the result of bad intentions, but of deficient planning processes: of a lack of clear co-responsibility and collaboration between the stakeholders involved.

This does not only happen in Galicia. Our contemporary society has too much pressure to commit resources and energy to planning, through the analysis of needs or joint reflection. There is a common idea that planning delays projects. However, the crises we are suffering leave us with no other option: we must take better care of what we have and protect our future by being more respectful of our past, our environment and our resources.

Josep Bohigas, director of the strategic planning agency Barcelona Regional, used to say that in order to obtain a good answer it is essential to ask a good question; in other words, a good planning process is the fundamental basis on which to base a good project and an efficient use of public funds.

The Fundación RIA began to collaborate with the Marine Research Institute (IIM) of the CSIC in 2019 by designing, together with its management team, a roadmap to structure the steps that the institution should take to move from its current headquarters in Bouzas to the future Scientific-Technological Campus of the Sea, which will transform the old ETEA.

The first step of this roadmap was the analysis of needs and participation with the aim of identifying the demands of research but also of the citizens of Teis, in order to understand the conditions of the place and to integrate the new buildings in its landscape, social and urban environment.

This process was based on a broad and detailed participation of all the research groups that make up the IIM through interviews, visits and surveys, which allowed the RIA team to determine the needs of the different working groups, understand the working relationship between the different spaces used, analyse the environmental conditions required by their processes, and understand the interests and demands of the staff in order to contribute to improving their conditions.

We also sought the participation of research and university institutions that could potentially have a presence in the ETEA, such as the University of Vigo or the Campus do Mar.

Likewise, the process was open to the citizens of Riós, through the social entities of Teis, which allowed us to understand the history of the neighbourhood: its link with the sea and the shipyards, the social conflicts derived from the large infrastructures that transformed the place or the uncomfortable relationship with the ETEA, which was always close to its surroundings. These conversations were constantly encouraged by the management of the Institute, with the intention that the project would not only respond to the needs of research, but would also be an exemplary project, respectful of the place, its people and its history.

The second step on the road map was the drafting and approval by the Xunta de Galicia of an urban planning document, the Sectorial Project (PS-2), which defined the volume and conditions for the implementation of future buildings on the plot. The suggestions of the Teis Neighbours Association were fundamental in the drafting of the PS-2 to favour the opening of the ETEA towards Riós and thus reverse the current situation, in which the buildings give the coast to the neighbourhood and block the connection with it.

The third step of the road map was the organisation of a public architectural competition with the intervention of a jury, the first of its kind promoted by the CSIC, in which almost forty studios drew up proposals for the new research centre.

The winning project of the competition was drawn up by the Navarra-based studios Pereda Pérez Arquitectos and MRM Arquitectos. From their proposal, presented under the slogan Of Land and Sea, the jury highlighted aspects 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 took place in ETEA on 27th and 28th of July, where the public could see all the candidates presented and which was also a great opportunity to inform society about the work of the IIM and CSIC, together with the importance of an international reference centre for marine research.

This magazine offered Fundación RIA the opportunity to explain its coordination and mediation work in this process, which allowed it to bring together the interests of all parties to define the conditions of a consensual project. Through examples such as the IIM, we want to demonstrate that both planning processes can achieve better results.

The RIA team would like to take this opportunity to thank all the stakeholders for their involvement, the local community, the IIM, the Vigo City Council, the Xunta de Galicia, the CSIC, the Spanish Government and the European Union for facilitating and promoting a process that achieved a high degree of consensus and that will undoubtedly mark a milestone in the history of Teis and marine research.