SOMOS.arquitectos is shortlisted in an international competition for a new Cherry Tree Palace in Jerte Valley, Cáceres.

An intervention in the Jerte valley must participate of the ETHEREAL, VOLATILE and FESTIVE character wisely deployed by the CHERRY blossoms, a visual and olfactory performance that deeply stirs up our sensibility year after year. The competition site is nestled in the midst of this unexpected scenario, strongly contained by the terraces that colonize the space, making it habitable. The first decision of our proposal is to keep this TRADITIONAL way of working the land, defining a series of platforms able to establish a gradation of accesses and program. Following this idea, it seems appropriate to start from the HIGHEST point of the site, dominating the landscape, descending in successive leaps. The first platform at level +104m is used as road access and is equipped with parking places providing special needs (official vehicles, handicapped). The next terrace at level +103m is the real MEETING point of those who gather to enjoy the boundless natural spectacle. It is modeled as a large square overlooking the valley. Wandering among the cherry trees that punctuate our journey, we let ourselves slide down the gentle slope until we reach the main access of the building located at level +101m. Accompanied by the cherry trees, the different terraces show us the journey to follow. 

The building itself, the Cherry Palace, is shaped by means of an arrangement of COVERED terraces, earthen platforms sheltered from the weather under a weightless, translucent, and light exultant volume, a functional materialization of the cherry dense mass that fills the hills and builds the MEMORY of the SITE: artificial foliage supported by slender pillars, which as some sort of man-made trunks reinforce the apparent instability of the lightweight “roof”. A single continuous space but fitted to the scale of each proposed function by means of successive compressions and expansions. In a constant dialogue, the roof, the floor and the perimeter enclosure define SPACES with a different character, programmatic capacity and VERSATILITY, given the absence of intermediate pillars or functional elements. 

The access level (+101m) houses one single EXHIBITION area that opens up onto an outdoors area in successive stages: first of all, the covered space already described, afterwards a transitional covered space but bounded on its perimeter and finally, an open area belonging to the terrace system. If we gently descend through the forest of pillars which act as a diaphragm between the two main areas of the building, we will enter the multipurpose AUDITORIUM, located at level +100m. The MINOR FUNCTIONS like toilets, two offices and mechanical facilities area are all integrated into the TERRACE bounding the south side (indicated by a dashed line on the ground) and have direct access from this level. In this position they go unnoticed under the eyes of a distracted visitor. 

The Auditorium is a single, versatile, naturally lit space in direct contact with the outer terrace that serves in turn as outdoor EXTENSION to expand its functional possibilities. This same level is connected with the road and serves as loading and unloading deck. Below this last platform, at level +99m, there is another terrace that will be available as SUPPLEMENTARY space for EXHIBITIONS and other extra activities. Thus, we have established a CONTINUOUS PROMENADE sheltered and accompanied by the cherry trees, linking the upper part of the site with the lowest level. We take advantage of level +98m to cover recreational and social programs, providing COURTS, CHILDREN and LEISURE areas that can be used independently of associated with the Cherry Tree Palace. 

In short, a controlled area, structured and based on a deep understanding that intimately relates the proposed intervention with the spirit and philosophy of what gives shape and meaning to an entire region: the CHERRY TREE.