The public architecture in Madrid and in the beginning of the 21st century (VI) | Antón Capitel


Town hall of Madrid. Principal restored space. Francisco Rodríguez de Partarroyo´s equip

Since I think that it it is also in case of the new Town hall, at least in what it does to the architectural thing, and without here not even the political thing is going to get rubbed by no means not even the topic of the activities or of the contents.

The equipment of Francisco Rodríguez de Partearroyo (“Arquimática”) gained the contest for the conversion in new Town hall and in cultural municipal Center the building that was Palace of Communications, headquarters of Post office, of the architects Palacios and Otamendi.

This one is not the only case in which Antonio Palacios’s architecture distorts rather the character of the building. Already the Bank of the River Plate, then Banco Central, in the street of Alcala, was turning out to be paradoxically suitable, at least from the figurative point of view, to have been the headquarters of the Constitutional Court, since about a beginning it was thought, though then Cervantes was turning into headquarters of the Institute, not so adapted to occupy it, from the point of view of the character. The giant Corinthian columns and the caryatids were making wait for a more appropriate content.

The Palace of Communications, on the other hand, has managed to be the Town hall of Madrid that always had seemed to be, with the unfolded and institutional occupation of the great bevel of Cibeles’s square, the downtown, and the presence of the monumental tower of the clock. It will never happen to any visitor of Madrid already that this building could have been another thing that the Town hall of the Villa and Court. In this respect, the municipal operation seems to me to be very guessed right, beyond what it could be reasonable or not as for politics of investments, or to other matters of political and administrative character.

I think that the architect Rodriguez de Partearroyo and his equipment have done a logical, neat, beautiful work and adequately systematic, and it so much in what this one has of recovery and of restoration of the original spaces, as in those operations of transformation that have been necessary, since it is that of the new Lounge of meetings of the Council or the conversion in a covered interior of the court of post-office sorting room, for speaking only about both more important transformations, between multiple, delicate and difficult that this great rehabilitation has had.

What seems to me to be slightly ridiculous is that in the building it has not put on the sign of “Town hall”, and have the silliest of “Center-center”, alluding only to the condition of cultural institution and not to the police officer. As if him one was afraid to this confession and following a very contemporary mode of buildings ágrafos or illiterate.

Interior of a ship in the former Slaughter house of Madrid

The rehabilitation of the former municipal slaughter house, constructed by the architect of the Town hall Luis Bellido and Gonzalez (from 1907 to 1925) is different of the municipal important operations, in this case, especially, for his great size. It is necessary to say that, in very good measure, the fact that this operation should go out forward in a positive way, it owes to the intelligent management of the architect Carlos Baztán Lacasa, who also intervened very directly in the topic of the transformation of the building of Post office in Town hall, as well as in the management of the contest of the Theatres of the Channel. Baztán, whose meritorious and brilliant management began, already a lot of time ago, in the Headquarter of Fine arts of the Department of Culture, was employed also at the Community of Madrid, and later at the Councillorship of the Arts of the Town hall; and, recently, there has been dismissed of his position, which has been done, undoubtedly, to be grateful for the given services to him. The Town hall of Madrid is like that.

The rehabilitation of the slaughter house for cultural center – almost we might say that for system of cultural centers – raises to the Town hall and to the own city the challenge of which he acquires a real vitality, of which there takes place, really, a royal occupation of so great quantity of enclosures. This is, that the conservation of these eclectic architectures of meritorious value does not remain in a pure or abstract question, of simple patrimonial safeguard, but the royal use could be capable of justifying for yes same the relevancy of the operation. The time will be saying it to us.

An interesting quality of the slaughter house is it of which his great area has joined now, with certain naturalness, the operation of the park “Madrid Río”, and so that both elements, great cultural enclosure and park, they rest and contribute to the fact of a city urbanistically richer and of major and attractive complexity. Of another side, some of the concrete works of rehabilitation have been interesting enough, such as that of Arturo Franco in some of the pavilions, and that of Jose Maria de Churtichaga and Cayetana de la Quadra-Salcedo, in the accomplishment of the Cinema, and have increased this way satisfactorily the values of the set.

(to be continued…)

Antonio González-Capitel Martínez · Doctor arquitecto · professor in ETSAM

Madrid · march 2013

Antón Capitel

Es arquitecto y catedrático de Proyectos de la Escuela de Arquitectura de Madrid, fue director de la revista Arquitectura (COAM) de 1981-86 y de 2001-09. Historiador, ensayista y crítico, ha publicado numerosos artículos en revistas españolas y extranjeras sobre arquitectura española e internacional. Entre sus libros destacan diferentes monografías sobre arquitectos.

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