ArcelorMittal steel carries the roof of the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos

This modern architectural complex in the historical Spanish town of Burgos seeks to reproduce the Atapuerca mountains, an important archaeological site in the region. ArcelorMittal supplied the characteristic red steel structure that marks the museum's lateral facades and concrete reinforcing steel bars and meshes for the building's structure.

Detailed information

A Human Evolution Complex consists of three separate buildings conceived as glazed volumes, separated by narrow streets. The museum constitutes the central and defining element, flanked by the National Centre of Human Investigation and the Congress Centre and Evolution Forum.
The museum displays findings of an archaeological site in the Atapuerca mountains, located east of Burgos. In some of the mountains' caves, fossils and stone tools of Western Europe's earliest known hominids were found that probably date back 1.2 million years. Because of the importance of its findings, Atapuerca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Architectural concept

The project was developed by Spanish architect and painter Juan Navarro Baldeweg and expresses historical Burgos's bid for modernity. According to the architectural concept, the Human Evolution Complex interprets evolution as something intimately connected to the territory, the soil, the geological strata, and nature in general, which is the context for life, and contains information and knowledge that literally has to be excavated.

The architectural project seeks to reproduce the Atapuerca mountains within the city of Burgos. Therefore, the complex is set on an elevated platform 5 m above street level. Access to the museum is realised via a ramp. The elevation is planted with native vegetation from the mountains and descends in terraces to the Arlanzon river. On top, at the main entrance to the museum, a spectacular viewpoint over the historic city centre was created.

On entering the building, the impression of continuity marks the visitor's experience. The glazed facades allow a visual connection with the outside and the neighbouring buildings. The complex is flooded with natural light and evokes transparency and openness towards the community.

Four inclined modules with plants contribute to the idea of the mountains in the city and the longitudinal sections that form the corridors emulate the cuttings realised when building the mining railroad at the end of the 19th century that led to the discovery of the caves now contributing to the reconstruction of the past.

The museum, oriented towards north-south, is a 30 m high, 60 m wide, and 90 m long prism. The entrance area is a wide and open space, dominated by light, balance, and pure lines.

The total surface of 15 000 m2 is distributed on four levels of the permanent exhibition, the temporary exhibition, the workshops, the function room, and the sanitary installations.

ArcelorMittal steel

The facades are made up by double glazing and the roof allows natural light from above, contributing to the building's luminosity and energy efficiency. The characteristic red steel structure supports the roof on the east and west facades. ArcelorMittal supplied the steel sections for this structure that not only has a load bearing but also symbolic function.

All three buildings of the Evolution complex are made of a steel concrete composite structure for which ArcelorMittal also supplied the concrete reinforcing steel bars and meshes.

Project information

  • Burgos
  • Spain
  • 2006 - 2010
  • Architect:
    Navarro Baldeweg Asociados
  • Client:
    Junta de Castilla y León
  • Contractor:
    Ortiz Construcciones y Proyectos (main contractor)
  • Photos:
    Museum of Human Evolution, Burgos