Aesthetic and functional roof structure with perforated Frequence® steel sheets protects El Molinete Archaeological Park

A new roof structure, functional yet aesthetic, protects the Roman ruins in El Molinete Archaeological Park in Cartagena, south-east Spain. Its lightness and transparency, achieved thanks to the use of Frequence® perforated steel sheets, create a vibrant dialogue with the different architectural styles in this historical port city.

Detailed information

Vibrant element in the archaeological surroundings

The architectural project basically consists of protecting the archaeological remains of the Roman settlement in Cartagena with a roof and complements the Molinete Park with a footbridge to offer visitors a safe tour through the park with good views of the ruins. The Molinete Archaeological Park comprises the Roman baths, palestra, and domus, which remind us of the ancient history of the port city of Carthago Nova as it was called from around 200 BC to 435 AD when it played an important role in the Roman Empire.

The new roof is without a doubt another highlight in the urban landscape of Cartagena, with the mission of making its different architectural styles compatible creating a vibrant neighbourhood.

Protection and transparency in one

The project unites the ruins in space and thus allows a continuous perception of the set which is only fragmented towards the exterior in order to respond in an adequate manner to its urban surroundings: the city on the one hand and Molinete Park on the other. On the pedestrian level, the element can only be perceived partially, but from further away, from the top of Molinete hill, the project appears as a whole highlighting its dimensions and particular shape.

Furthermore, the roof creates a new urban facade limiting the ruins towards the east and hiding their presence with a folded metal structure.

The main objective was to present the Roman ruins respectfully by means of a large span roof structure that requires a minimum of vertical supports.

Due to the fact that it was impossible to build supports on the north front because of the adjoining Roman Road, the majority of the columns are concentrated on the rest of the plot's borders including only three in its interior. The division of the columns in groups of a small diameter ensures they appear lighter.

The roof contributes to this sensation of lightness and was conceived as an element that permits the penetration of light, composed of elements that ensure it is waterproof (Polycarbonate) and another material that filters the light and provides visual homogeneity from the exterior (perforated steel sheets).

The illumination at night contributes to the light appearance of the whole roof structure, as do the rest of the elements of the project: The footbridge is a light element hanging down from the roof structure on one side, while on the other side it rests on the wall that limits the archeological park. Conceived as a glass box, it permits a view of the ruins from 3 m above and is also accessible for disabled people.The ticket office is integrated into the original fence and rises out of the folded structure. It contains all the installations of the park.

Steel for the roof

ArcelorMittal supplied the perforated steel sheets for the envelope of the tubular roof structure: A total of 5500 m2 of Frequence® 14.18 C sheets (0.6 mm) with Kristal® coating, painted and perforated (N12).

Due to the interesting geometry of the roof and the many different inclinations, assembly was very complicated.

This project of cultural importance is a good example of how spectacular architecture can be created with a product as simple as an undulating steel sheet.

Text: AMANN, CANOVAS MARURI, & Constructalia

Project information

  • Cartagena
  • Spain
  • Architect:
    Aman, Canovas Maruri arquitectos, Atxu Amann, Andrés Canovas y Nicolás Maruri (Project Managers)
  • Sept. 2010 - Nov. 2011
  • Client:
    Cartagena Puerto de Culturas
  • Engineering firm:
    Jose Cerezo Ingeniería
  • Assembly:
    Taller de Construcción TMR
  • Photographer:
    ©David Frutos