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San Sebastian Palacio Kursaal

San Sebastian, Spain
1 of 5Fabrice Fouillet

When the Great Kursaal, an elegant palace built in 1921, placed in front of the Gros beach was pulled down in 1973, an empty plot (later called K Plot) was freed. Due to political and funding disputes, it wasn't until 1996 that construction of the new building started. The absence of any architectonic structure in such a privileged site for so many years was remarkable. Finally Rafael Moneo was chosen for the new building which was finished in 1999.

In the beginning Donostians disliked the new Kursaal because it deliberately clashed with the curved sandstone buildings of the rest of the city's French-style architecture. But the inhabitants have grown to love it.

The complex is mainly constituted by two large prismatic volumes, that emerge from a platform. Each "cube" (as they are known), is formed by an inner prismatic structure, surrounded by double translucent glass panels, which are supported by a metallic structure. Between the cubes there is a big walkable surface, with sights to the Zurriola Beach and the mouth of the Urumea river. Various concerts of the Donostia Jazz Festival ("Jazzaldia"), and many other events, take place in that terrace.