Tanes Hydroelectric Power Plant
Caso & Sobrescobio
The Tanes pumped-storage plant, officially named Sánchez Pello Plant, was designed by a team of Hidroeléctrica del Cantábrico company engineers and built between 1970 and 1978.
This underground facility, dug into the bedrock, is a reversible type plant that is fed water from a higher reservoir – Tanes – and a lower one – Rioseco –, in the upper Nalón river, both of them gravity dams.
Design work in the plant was mainly limited to the interior, and was commissioned to Joaquín Vaquero Palacios and his son Joaquín Vaquero Turcios, who completed it in 1980. The rock determines the outline of the plant’s walls, deliberately made to stand out due to their aesthetic potential. The rock walls are framed by stainless steel sheets covering the concrete pillars that support the crane bridge structure. Beyond its doubtless aesthetic power, the interplay of materials such as rock and steel may be interpreted as a reference to the dialogue between nature and industry, between history and the present.
The claustrophobic feeling of being underground is diminished through the use of light and colour. The concrete-reinforced, ribless vault is worth noting, sixteen metres high and fifty metres long. The suggestion of heaviness is counteracted through the use of polychromy: a succint painting in flat white and yellow over a dark blue-gray – shapes that seem to float up in space like geometric clouds of sorts up in the sky. Other design elements are the ashtrays found in different parts of the facility, the rhomboid sheet metal panels dividing the auxiliary rooms, and two ornate bas reliefs.
Turbine and rock wall framed by steal sheets
Ashtrays designed by Vaquero Turcios
Power Plant and Nalón River