Urban Design in the Pyrenees
The Program requirements asked for a new 32,000 sq ft building for the Universitat d’Andorra, a new parking structure, and 79,000 sq ft of mixed residential, retail, and office space, promised by the previous scheme.
The new design is categorized as a mixed-use, urban infill project in the small town of Sant Julià de Lòria, Andorra in the Pyrenees (in between France & Spain). The town sits above the river Valira in a narrow mountain valley. The climate is alpine, and the economy is based on agriculture, banking, tourism, (skiing and hiking). Fiercely independent, Andorra was founded about AD 800 by Lombards from Northern Italy and given a charter by Charlemagne for fighting against the Moors. It has the oldest parliament in Europe (1278)… and is its longest lived Republic. The country saw little development until the last quarter of the 20th century and has become overly-car dependent lacking both air and rail links. Though the country is now very prosperous, the town of Sant Julià de Lòria is economically depressed and is losing population. The site, a former tannery and slaughter yards, sits in a depression between the river and the historic center of the town up, hill, the medieval Plaça Major. The main road and bus route in and out of the country follows the river, at the base of the site, 22 meters below the Plaça Major at the top.
Our proposal included the restoration of three existing 19th-century buildings formerly slated for demolition. In addition, we proposed a gateway building, the “Propylea,” to maintain the spatial integrity of the historic Plaça Major while providing pedestrian access to a new square, the Plaça Universitat, that serves as the focus of the design.