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La Nau Building - Reconstruction, symmetry and unity


Reconstruction, symmetry and unity

Luis Vives, José Aixá, 1880


The University facilities were ruined. A report by the municipal architect Cristóbal Sales in 1813 called for urgent repairs, but they were delayed.

Reconstruction started with the library. Three rooms lined with shelves decorated with pilasters and cornices made of pine and pear wood and wire netting doors made by the carpenter Mauro Comín in 1837, held all the books belonging to Vicente Blasco, Domingo Mascarós, Mariano Liñán, Francisco Borrull and other Faculty members, together with books from convents that had closed, including the magnificent collection of codices from San Miguel de los Reyes.

However, on reconstructing the buildings it was necessary to unify the property using criteria of symmetry and classic syntax to make the external shape a true expression of the internal reality. Therefore, a plan of the building was commissioned to the academic Timoteo Calvo Ibarra (1799-1879) by the university Faculty in 1839. Work began in 1840 to extend the model for the library façade designed by Joaquín Martínez to the entire front in la Nave street, with an austere and elegant frontispiece in the centre. At the same time the rectoral courtyard was remodelled in the style of a small Renaissance castle, finished in 1842. Round arches, pateras, niches with stucco and medallions by Bernardo Llácer compose an allegory of the teaching of the times, with a symbolic representation of the four faculties: Science, Medicine, Arts and Law.

The main patio was renovated in 1844 – 1845, erecting a peristyle of Doric order columns with an entablature on the sides that give on to the theatre and the entrance in la Nave street. The renovation was completed in 1871 by Sebastián Monleón (1815-1878) who was in charge of several other improvements including the construction of the meteorological observatory (1861), the rectory hall (1864) and the reform of the university theatre, where he built a new door to replace the former two, giving the theatre its current layout. The Natural History Museum (1872-1877), concluded by Antonio Martorell (1845-1930), was another of his works, with an interesting glazed roof on iron supports. Martorell, with the help of Luis Ferreres (1852-1926) also continued the works on the façade in la Universidad and Salvá streets to “give unity and a decorous appearance” to the building, and aligned the streets, since he was concerned not only with the monument itself but with the urban environment “visibly improving transit and public adornment in this central part of the town”.

In 1880 the statue of Luis Vives by the sculptor José Aixá (1834-1920), cast in bronze in one piece by Vicente Ríos in the workshops of La Primitiva Valenciana, was erected in the centre of the courtyard. On the occasion of the festivities to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the University’s foundation, 17 medallions with busts in relief of personages connected with the history of the institution were placed in the courtyard.

Architects Antonio Martorell and Timoteo Calvo


La Nau Building

La Nau chronology

Foundation of the "Estudi General"

Building a house of knowledge

17th and 18th Centuries

"Building without offending proper decorum"

Reconstruction, symmetry and unity

The University as a living monument

Cultural Project  


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