The AGi architects’ project for the Centro de Arte de las Arquerías de Nuevos Ministerios, in Madrid, Spain, was awarded second prize at the competition organized by ENAIRE Foundation. The proposal takes as a starting point the recovery of the essence of the arcades, restoring its nature as a filter and reclaiming the “Gran Plaza” as a great public space for the city. The rehabilitation strategy of the Art Center proposed by AGi is governed by four guidelines that will make the new center a social and cultural venue of Madrid City: recovery, transparency, identity and functionality.
Recovery, Transparency, Identity and Functionality for the new Art Center
First of all, the design firm proposes the recovery through an integral cleaning of the exhibition hall, eliminating many of the elements introduced in the different actions undertaken and that distort the understanding of the original space, together with a new structure of floors reducing the exhibitions to three levels: ground floor, first floor and basement. Likewise, the introduction of new elements is established from the respect of the recovered container, “approaching but not touching”, so that the new intervention may be reversible in the future.
The idea of transparency is determined by the desire to bring the garden closer to the city. Taking as a premise the understanding of the arcades as part of a larger group, AGi architects decided to return them to their original nature, acting as a filter between the gardens and the city, framing the garden to the stroller and providing it with privacy. For this, a recovery of transparency is proposed, restoring the existing glass without losing sight of sustainability, so that the new glass will be of low solar factor and high transparency factor, allowing the thermal conditioning of the exhibition halls without losing the transparency of the arcades.
In addition, it is necessary that the new Art Center of the ENAIRE Foundation in the “Arquerías de los Nuevos Ministerios” has its own identity, a strong and marked character that not only respects but exalts the existing complex. Therefore, AGi proposes to act on the Castellana-Garden connection by highlighting the existing voids, generating a great guiding layer, creating a new urban landmark capable of taking the garden to the city, and giving the Art Center a new identity. It is proposed to extend the scope of action to the study of the “Gran Plaza” program, stating that this is part of the exhibition area, welcoming art of different size and format. This guiding layer would also be the access to this new square for the citizens.
Finally, the design firm also pursues functionality in its design. To achieve this, it is proposed to centralize access, thus avoiding the long current routes. The access to the whole building will take place on the same Castellana-Garden connection, forming the Large Entrance Atrium and giving it more activity. Two communication cores, one for staff and another for visitors that cross all levels will serve as connectors among the program. These large glass elements will also help to understand the space and introduce natural light in the basement. The proposed program is resolved by levels, each level corresponding to a type of exhibition.
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