Close to the celebration of the 4th centenary of Madrid’s iconic Plaza Mayor in March 2015, renovation works were undertaken.
Given the Plaza Mayor’s historical nature (a Declared Asset of Cultural Interest), the fundamental premise of construction was for all the actions to work toward integration with the historical site and the preservation of such an iconic part of Madrid’s Cultural Heritage.
Generally, the Plaza Mayor was in a state that required the restoration and renovation of some of its features. In some cases, this was due to the time that had elapsed since the last intervention. In others, it was due to the difficulty involved in doing the maintenance work needed on such a particular space.
The project centered around basic upgrades for Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. It entailed restoring the façades and roofs that slope into the square, upgrading the arcades, and repairing the pavements and flooring of the Plaza and entryways. Facilities were organized, renovated, and implemented, as well.
Due to the square’s characteristics, this project required ensuring the safety of pedestrians with the continuity of daily life on-site while construction was being carried out. Since Madrid’s Plaza Mayor has also been declared a site of historical and artistic interest (BIC), careful execution of each task was also necessary. Work was done in phases to facilitate the construction’s coexistence alongside daily life in the Plaza. To minimize its impact, mimetic tarpaulins were placed on the scaffolding.
The necessary construction and stockpiles were carefully and strictly planned out since vehicle access to the square is restricted.
Overall, the Plaza was in a poor state of preservation. Various features were found in problematic states; these included facades, roofs, flooring, dormer windows, awnings… In light of the celebrations for the Fourth Centennial of the Plaza, the City Council decided to do restoration work.
The square’s roofs were in a poor state of conservation with features that had come loose, been replaced with improper ones, or were broken, which made it necessary to renovate them immediately. As for the facades, they were defective in areas due to humidity and inadequate runoff. The construction work done for restoration on roofs and facades included the following:
- Replacing pieces of slate covering and features like ridges, files, and pieces of finishing for lofts.
- Dismantling and repositioning the perimeter deck railing.
- Repairing the roof water collection system and replacing the gutter and gargoyles.
- Reviewing the lead aprons on balconies.
- Cleaning, consolidating, and protecting the stone features on balconies, fences, and overhangs.
- General cleaning of the plaster, fixing the issues, and making the traditional lime plaster, keeping the original color, carving, and finishes.
- Applying silicate paint glaze to all of the plaster.
- Cleaning up, stripping, sanding, and painting the bracings on all the facades except on the Casa de la Panadería and the Casa de la Carnicería.
- Cleaning up, stripping, and painting railings.
For the Plaza’s arcades, work was primarily aimed at restoring their working conditions and accessibility, as well as ensuring proper waterproofing to prevent moisture leakage into the historic brick vaults of the Plaza’s premises.
- Cleaning, consolidating, and waterproofing stone elements on porticos.
- Raising the historic granite flooring after the pieces are characterized, inventoried, and numbered for their subsequent relocation.
- Waterproofing the arcades up to the external drainage gutter and protecting the gutter.
- Replacing the original flooring.
- Sealing stabilized cracks and fissures and painting the vaults.
- Taking down and replacing the awnings in the jack arches.
For the Plaza’s pavements and entryways, work was very limited and isolated. These tasks were fundamentally aimed at reorganizing the facilities by creating a perimeter ring around the entire Plaza that would guarantee supplies:
- Carrying out perimeter channeling around the square for housing facilities and locating catch basins.
- Repairing and connecting the Plaza’s perimeter sanitation network.
- Replacing flooring that had previously been disassembled and characterized.
Specific issues were found at the Plaza, such as in the area of the Arco de Cuchilleros. There, a more intensive intervention was needed due to sinking and settling within the Plaza itself.
In facilities, priority was given to upgrading the security and surveillance systems network, as well as organizing those that serve the Plaza:
- Renovating the security systems, cases, cameras, and wiring in arcades.
- Installing risers and a perimeter tray for accommodating new systems.