Ferrovial La ingeniería civil como arte: creatividad e innovación

The Stairsteps of Knowledge

Madrid, Spain

Caixa Forum Madrid View full project

In the center of Madrid, an old power plant floats a few meters off of the ground, framed by a vertical garden. On the ground, a mosaic of concrete triangles leads inside to stairways of impossible perspectives housing a piece of global culture.

The Caixa Forum headquarters in Madrid was designed by architects Jaques Herzog and Pierre De Meuron and built by Ferrovial. It hearkens back to a world fueled by coal and looks to the future with knowledge as its guide.

Construction consisted of transforming the old Central Eléctrica del Mediodía, a 19th-century building designed to supply energy to southern Madrid in bygone times. Today, the exterior of the Caixa Forum building still preserves the look of a factory that has been abandoned for years. It has, however, grown from the original 2,000 square meters to some 10,000.

The only thing not preserved from the original structure was a large granite plinth. After it was removed, the new building appears to float over the plaza. Those 2,500 square meters connect the space with the Prado Museum, a hub of cultural activity.

Its architecture plays with the environment, too. The square where the building is located is decorated with a vertical garden standing 24 meters high. Patrick Blanc’s work consists of 15,000 plants from 25 different species. They survive without soil – only water and nutrients.

Inside is where the engineering becomes truly remarkable. The central staircase widens as it climbs. The main floor can be accessed by a metal staircase that loops in a spiral. The other floors open up around another circular staircase. The building’s seven levels (two of which are underground) house exhibition halls, an auditorium, conservation workshops, and other commercial spaces.

Caixa Forum, Madrid (Spain)

Caixa Forum, Madrid (Spain)

  • Spain
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