Madrid architect Paredes Pedrosa has uncovered another treasure, a museum in the coastal Spanish town of Almeria

In the 14 years since setting up their own architectural practice in Madrid, Ingacio García Pedrosa and Angela García de Paredes have established themselves as the contemporary face of Spanish culture. Their buildings, including an exhibition centre in Murcia, a congress centre in Peníscola (see Building, 21 May, pages 24-28) and two theatres in Madrid and Cuenca, have won design competitions and international awards for their bold and unadorned volumes, spaces and flat surfaces.

The new archaeological museum in the Andalusian coastal city of Almeria fits the Paredes Pedrosa pattern exactly. Externally, it is a nearly windowless box alongside a wide entrance courtyard. It comes with sharply cut arrises and is faced entirely in marble.

Inside, the box contains three levels of galleries, which are likewise rectangular and plain, though with walls finished in smooth, white-painted plaster. Windows are limited, so as to exploit wall surfaces for displaying items from the collection, and are positioned to make the best of the views on the world outside.

The drama of the building is concentrated in the central atrium and the rooflights. The atrium is spanned by pairs of slender staircases with clear-glazed balustrading that connect all three floors of galleries on either side. By linking up and crossing over at half-landings, the staircases form three dynamic X formations stacked on top of each other and contrasting with the rectangular surfaces and volumes around them.

The roof is a sawtooth formation of northlights that provide light to the top floor of galleries. Glare is restricted by timber baffles set within the northlights, and they alternate with reinforced concrete cross beams, which are also splayed on the south side and below. The 3D geometry is angled to maximise daylight while creating lively plays of light and shade that dance across the ancient exhibits below.