Reina Sofía Museum Extension

Reina Sofía Museum Extension, Madrid - Spain, Jean Nouvel Atelier
Construction year: 2005
Address: Calle Santa Isabel, 52 | MADRID | Spain | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 40.40747, -3.69475

In the shadow, yes, for the existing museum must clearly dominate. It must impose its power simply and clearly. The great austere Reina Sofia, besieged by its glass elevators, is the place where our masterpieces of recent art are safeguarded. Our role is to pledge fealty, express respect, and belonging. The museum is growing, annexing part of the neighborhood. Not taking over and traumatizing, but adapting and adorning, for the insertion of a contemporary building into an existing site is successful only if it enhances what surrounds it, and if it is itself enhanced by its surroundings. I propose a gentle, natural approach. The existing museum has taken under its wing an adjacent triangular lot with three or four existing buildings and a few trees.

While these buildings are being replaced, their replacements nevertheless remain in approximately the same places; the relationship with the surroundings is not fundamentally changed, but simply improved to open a view of the museum’s west façade. The front part of this façade will be surrounded by a steel and glass tower containing lighting instruments and projection screens. This little glass tower will complete the family of towers already surrounding the existing museum. The addition is literally an extension: the existing building’s stone pedestal is extended into the new museum and becomes the floor of the temporary exhibition spaces, the library, the restaurants, and the offices. Two walls from the previous buildings have been symbolically preserved, not for their beauty, but to affirm the sense of mutation. Most of the trees are preserved. The three new buildings, each corresponding to a specific program, are arranged around a courtyard. The library is to the south; to the west is a wing of social functions – auditorium, protocol room, bar, and restaurant -; to the north are temporary exhibit spaces; these are directly connected to the existing museum. Each building opens onto terraces, some public, others for employees. The library captures light and shade from overhead by means of suspended dome-shaped skylights. Steel louvers perforated in calligraphic patterns protect the large panels of etched glass, a small refinement that creates an intimate light suitable for study.

⇒ Architecture Guide to MADRID
⇒ Learn more about: