Gallen St. The attraction will not only be CaixaForum's cultural program, but also the building itself, insofar that its heavy mass, is detached from the ground in apparent defiance of the laws of gravity and, in a real sense, draws the visitors inside. The classified brick walls of the former power station are reminiscences of the early industrial age in Madrid, while the gas station, a purely functional structure, was clearly out of place. Like a vineyard that could never develop its full potential because it was planted with the wrong grape, this prominent location could not develop its full potential. The demolition of the gas station created a small plaza between the Paseo del Prado and the new CaixaForum in the converted power station.
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The Swiss architects have just done the same thing in Madrid, but the Caixa Forum couldn't be more different from Tate Modern. Giles Gilbert Scott's Bankside power station had everything a museum could want: a dramatic location, an iconic form and a sense of space to fill you with awe. The Paseo del Prado, Madrid's showpiece boulevard, tree-lined and traffic-choked, runs through the densest concentration of art in Europe. Connecting the Prado — one of the world's great museums — the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia, all of which have undergone ambitious expansions in the last couple of years, it's a parade that only Fifth Avenue's Museum Mile can equal.
The Caixa Forum sits just off this axis. An art and music centre funded by one of Spain's biggest banks, it is much smaller than any of the surrounding institutions and is the only one dedicated to contemporary art.
The boutique to their megastores, it literally turns heads in a way that they don't. The covered plaza under the museum. And that's because you don't see it coming. Jammed into a tight streetscape, it is connected to the Paseo del Prado only by a small plaza. As you're walking down the boulevard, the Caixa springs on you like an urban jack-in-the-box.
At first it's the textures that demand your attention: walls of brick and rusted iron set next to a vertical garden designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc.
Then it's the fact that the building appears to be hovering above the ground. This is urban theatrics — the architecture of David Copperfield. There is a real tension in this building between the seductiveness of the brick and iron and the ruthless removal of the ground floor. The original building had a surprising amount of charm for a coal-burning power station.
It's like a backstreet Venetian church from which the marble facade has been plundered. In the afternoon winter light, the bricks are an edible pink.
They were already filled in, albeit not as beautifully. Furthermore, all those sills and architraves suggest floors and rooms that were never there, because this was what Robert Venturi might have called "a decorated shed". Great iron wheels used to turn in that hollow shell. As if in homage to the Industrial Age technology once housed here, the architects have extended the building upwards in cast iron.
Not the treated, stable corten steel so common these days but the old stuff with the powdery rust — the dust-and-bull's-blood rust that they love up around Bilbao.
It's what you might call a "real" material, so real that it bleeds after a rain. What a relief to escape the ubiquitous glass-and-steel transparency that is the standard approach to converting old buildings, a tactic that makes architects feel like they're shining the light of reason on their predecessors' work. This new iron cap celebrates its opacity. There are no windows as such. Instead, the iron disintegrates in places into perforated screens so that you can look out over the city from the top-floor cafe.
View from the Paseo del Prado, with Patrick Blanc's green wall. The roof takes what looks like a building and turns it into an object. Gugger says it could have just been a box, but that it was broken down to match the volumes of the surrounding roofscape. It also looks anvil heavy, which is paradoxical given that the building appears to be resting on air. First of all, how is it still standing and, secondly, what happened to the ground floor?
The decision to cut it away was based on the fact that the building was hemmed in by apartment blocks on three sides and by a petrol station on the Paseo del Prado. But the architects didn't feel that was enough.
So they supported the building on three concrete cores and removed the power station's granite base to create a covered open space. Instead of people milling around around the building, they can mill around beneath it.
Now that the side of the building has become the front, this overhang serves to "suck in" the visitors, as Gugger puts it. The building is tightly surrounded by apartment blocks. It was a bold and impressively unsentimental tactic.
But the building doesn't look altogether comfortable. The truncated porticos where the entrance used to be only add to the impression that it has been chopped off at the knees — and there is undoubtedly a loss of dignity in that.
The pay-off is meant to be in the diverting surface of the metal soffit. Its triangulated skin covers the diagonal truss system that's helping to hold it up.
The covered space is dark, and so is a good place to hide from the summer sun, but — unlike, say, the plaza outside the Pompidou Centre — there is nothing to see. There is nothing inviting you to behave a certain way. So what's it doing here?
This question is slightly complicated by the fact that the Caixa has more public space around it than it was supposed to.
Well into the construction process, the annexe housing the electrical transformers burned down and made way for another small plaza to the south.
This is a boon in the sense that there is now something of an approach from that direction as opposed to the sudden apparition at the end of an alley.
However, this does make the strategy of hacking into the building feel rather excessive and gestural. If the covered plaza felt more purposeful, or even more leisurely, then this wouldn't matter.
A small plaza creates a more open approach to the museum from the south. The building proper starts on the first floor, and you are whisked up there by a rather lovely faceted metal staircase that brings inside something of the soffit outside. Here there's a bookshop and ticket desk, and a large window looking out across the Paseo del Prado to the Botanical Gardens. This view makes explicit the existence of that "vertical garden" on the side of the neighbouring building.
Plastered with different species of plant, it is meant to create a visual link to the gardens across the boulevard — a strategy that fits into Alvaro Siza's masterplan for the Paseo del Prado, which aims to reduce the traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to amble from one side to the other. Perhaps when it matures it will lend something more substantial to this setting. There's a lot more in this building than you would credit from the outside.
There are two floors underground, holding conference rooms and a large auditorium for concerts. The galleries on the second and third floors are, well, galleries — big paintings in one Schnabels, Kiefers and Polkes and big photographs in the other Gurskys, Shermans and Wearings , all very mainstream.
On the underground auditorium level, the walls have a pressed mesh pattern. All of these floors, along with the cafe above them, are connected by a ceremonial concrete stairwell. This spiral stairwell — a surprise in this context, partly because of its s elegance — completes the sensual richness of this building, which veers from thin bricks to rusting iron to faceted steel and somewhat gaudy garden.
There's a lot going on, and it is all contributing to a sense that one is being seduced by effects. It's dazzling but it's not clear what's tying these textures together. He disagrees, countering that the early buildings were always "playful". And to be fair, the Caixa came with a particularly tricky set of conditions, and few architects would have handled them as ingeniously as this.
However, this building is a fascinating case study in how an architect deals with a problematic situation; a situation that has been resolved with a little more style than rigour. The entrance stairway. The main entrance with steel-covered soffit. The concrete stairwell running through the building on the south side.
Cross-section from east to west. Basic HTML code is allowed. Icon Magazine. Caixa Forum Architecture. The covered plaza under the museum And that's because you don't see it coming.
View from the Paseo del Prado, with Patrick Blanc's green wall The roof takes what looks like a building and turns it into an object. The building is tightly surrounded by apartment blocks It was a bold and impressively unsentimental tactic. A small plaza creates a more open approach to the museum from the south The building proper starts on the first floor, and you are whisked up there by a rather lovely faceted metal staircase that brings inside something of the soffit outside.
On the underground auditorium level, the walls have a pressed mesh pattern All of these floors, along with the cafe above them, are connected by a ceremonial concrete stairwell. ICON February News Editor's choice. The obsession with brutalist architecture has gone too far The obsession with brutalist architecture has gone too far Comment.
Architecture school launches scholarships to improve diversity in the built environment Architecture school launches scholarships to improve diversity in the built environment News. Sign up to ICON's newsletter. Syria Matters Syria Matters Diary Product directory. The R53 Torino door handle. Sustainable design: Pentatonic x Snarkitecture talk recycled materials Sustainable design: Pentatonic x Snarkitecture talk recycled materials Video New Nordic design New Nordic design Video Click here to comment on this article The entrance stairway The main entrance with steel-covered soffit The concrete stairwell running through the building on the south side Cross-section from east to west.
201 CAIXAFORUM MADRID
The CaixaForum arts centre, which opened earlier this year in Madrid, Spain, incorporates walls from a power station that previously occupied the site. It includes galleries, administrative offices and a restaurant in the upper levels, as well as an auditorium below ground level. Malagamba's website is now accessible to anyone and includes recent work alongside much of his archive. Projects can be searched by architect, location or type. A Magnet The CaixaForum is conceived as an urban magnet attracting not only the art-lovers but all people of Madrid and from outside.
Caixa Forum, Madrid Spain – Herzog & de Meuron
The old power plant noon will become the Caixa Forum, a cultural center, an ambitious social and cultural project for Madrid. The architectural plan of CaixaForum-Madrid is part of the project to reorganize the axis Recoletos-Prado, an urban initiative of great relevance to Madrid. The main access will be made by the 36th of the ride. The building will preserve the industrial image of the old factory and defining a new volume. CaixaForum have over 2, m2 of exhibition halls, an auditorium with seats, a media library, several multipurpose rooms for conferences and other activities, conservation and restoration workshops and a warehouse of artworks. The spacious lobby, cafeteria, bookshop and restaurant will complement the supply center. Caixa Forum Madrid Architect:.