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(left) A view looking up at the roof in the condition it was handed over to Skene Catling de la Peña architects. Here it is possible to see how the incoherent roof form, adapted over years through many different uses, was completely unrelated to the open plan spaces below. This became the design first issue to resolve.

(right) Skene Catling de la Peña proposal to insert six facsimiles of Spanish ceilings drove the design and choreography of the exhibition.


A section through ‘In Ictu Oculi’ at The Spanish Gallery, rooms one to four. The method and protocol devised by Factum Foundation has made it possible to bring together objects and whole architectures that could never travel or be seen together otherwise. New dialogue and narratives reveal powerful new insights in ways unimaginable until now.


(top) 1637 Edition of Christopher Saxton’s 1574 Map of County Durham.
(right) Zooming in to the historic part of Bishop Auckland, to reveal the extent of the interventions by The Auckland Project.

Located in the town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham, England, Auckland Castle or Auckland Palace, also known as the Bishop’s Palace, is one of the best-preserved bishops’ palaces in Europe. It is a Grade I listed building that dates back to the 12th century. Previously a deer park, Bishop Hugh Pudsey established a manor house on the site in around 1183.

In 1832, this castle replaced Durham Castle as the official residence of the Bishops of Durham. The Castle recently reopened after undergoing major conservation work, which has returned its state rooms to James Wyatt’s original Georgian Gothic design. The Castle is still surrounded by an 800-acre deer park of parkland and retains many medieval elements, including the fishponds and woodland paths, providing an important record of how the bishops lived, entertained and hunted there.


Top floor of the Spanish Gallery in it’s existing site condition

The ‘In Ictu Oculi’ installation is on the top floor of a Grade II listed former bank building. The roof space had been serially adapted over many years for different uses and had become an architecturally incoherent space.

The original roof structure as handed over to Skene Catling de la Peña. The chaotic crashing together of the traces of many different successive uses was the biggest challenge to overcome. Additionally, there was very little floor or ceiling loading available, so the weight of the proposed installation became critical. These views show how the roof form was unrelated to the walls and spaces below.


The architectural decision to create six discrete rooms drove the design and choreography of the exhibition. The ceilings were chosed to represent different periods and styles of the Spanish Golden Age, from the Islamic Mudejar ceilings of the Casa de Mesa in Toledo to the elaborate Christian, Baroque flourishes of the ceiling of the Hopital de la Caridad in Seville.

The process of ‘inserting’ facsimiles of Spanish ceilings with their complex geometries and decorations into the existing roof structure of a former bank building in the north of England, was further complicated by the fact that this is a listed building. The roof trusses had to remain in situ, and were either designed around, or incorporated to run through, the Spanish ceilings.

The ceilings created by Factum Foundation for the Spanish Gallery are accurate reproductions of specific existing ceilings or new interpretations inspired by standard motifs and patterns. The intent was to provide both a level of unity to the Spanish Gallery as a whole, but also to recall each of the facsimiles’ context of origin. After recording the original elements using photogrammetry and composite photography, each ceiling has been adapted to the original timber structure of the rooms in the Spanish Gallery.

This new design by Factum Arte is inspired by traditional Spanish Mudéjar timber ceilings of the 15th-17th centuries. The original ceiling is a modular design formed by five repeating sections. The ceilings are the result of an approach to pattern-making that uses geometric principles to generate patterns of great complexity and beauty, characteristic of Islamic and post-Islamic decoration in Spain.

Choreographed route through each gallery space


Room 1: The Map of Juan de la Cosa laid on a wallpaper design conceived as a composite with many influences and ingredients.
Photograph © James Morris


Room two contains facsimiles of the extraordinary glazed ceramic tiles that decorate the walls in the Casa de Pilatos in Seville. They have a defining presence in the Palace and represent a peak in the formal expression of the ‘cuenca’ method of tile making. This technique was developed in Seville and used in both religious and civil buildings throughout the 1500’s. The tiles were produced in Diego and Juan Pulido’s workshop in Triana, Seville, in 1538.

The tiles in Casa de Pilatos were recorded in 2018 using the Lucida 3D Scanner and composite photography as part of the fieldwork training with Columbia University’s GSAPP and more tiles were recorded by a Factum Foundation team in 2020. To produce the facsimile, the surface was 3D printed with a Canon elevated printing system to recreate the relief, which was then moulded, cast in acrylic resin, gesso-coated and printed on Factum’s flatbed inkjet printer. The final layer of transparent varnish was applied by hand.

Room Two: Material Transformation. Facsimiles of the 16th century tiles in the Casa de Pilatos, Seville, a portal into Spanish Renaissance and early Baroque thinking. 
Photograph © James Morris


Yesería is a term that describes carved or moulded plasterwork used for decorative purposes. Yeserías embody a specific aesthetic that arose during the cohabitation of Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities in Spain. The fusion of various cultural identities into a decorative art form is a critical feature of Spanish creativity that evolved to reflect political and religious change.

Photograph © James Morris


Photograph © James Morris


Photograph © James Morris


Photograph © James Morris


Curated by Adam Lowe and Charlotte Skene Catling
for Jonathan and Jane Ruffer
As part of the Auckland Project

Factum Foundation: Adam Lowe, Carlos Bayod, Otto Lowe, Pedro Miro, Oscar Parasiego, Victoria Matatagui, Casilda Ybarra
Skene Catling de la Peña: Charlotte Skene Catling, Antje Weihen, Pablo Wheldon
Spectron Solutions: Neal Taylor

In collaboration with
Centro de Estudios Hispánicos, Jose Luis Colomer
Foundation Casa Ducal de Medinacelli: Duque de Seogorber, Ignacio Medina, Fernandez de Cordoba, Juan Manuel Albendea Solis
Hispanic Society of America
The Auckland Project: Liz Fisher
ARUP: Andrew Rolf
Turner and Townsend: Tracy Cuthbertson
Focus Consultants: Eleanor Clarke