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Imagine a 30cm square board of polystyrene. Now make a handful of high-school geometric shapes out of more polystyrene and arrange them on top. Write your name somewhere. You now have a conceptual model at about the same level as every first project of every first year architecture student in the world.

Now take this model and blow it up to real size. Drop it randomly on a Spanish coastal town. You are Oscar Niemeyer and this is your gift to Spain; the International Cultural Centre in Aviles, Asturias aka Centro Niemeyer. Take a bow.

You must feel slightly bemused. They let you literally insert a humongous, dominating white slab of concrete into their city that is so ‘you’ it couldn’t possibly be mistaken for anybody else. Alone the 3 or 4 quintessentially Niemeyer structures are attractive, obsidian, pristine. Together and on this massive expanse of mucky white concrete they look like the penguin enclosure at the London Zoo.

London Zoo Penguins

They even let you roughly scrawl a line drawing of a woman/shark on the side of the theatre. Oh how you chuckled when they even signed off on that. You must sit at the top of the cylindrical room on a stick, looking out over the rooftops and thinking how you put Aviles on the map. You’d be right.

One beautiful aspect is the foot bridge connecting the complex to the town-side of the river. With an impossibly large corten cantilever bisecting the shell of an old Aviles warehouse - it's a fitting break of reality in preparation for the geometric white noise of Niemeyer's mind.

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