Madrid’s Hidden Architecture

I have highly schizophrenic tastes in design, especially when it comes to architecture.

My tastes easily waver between traditional and modern design. In general, I’m usually underwhelmed by the oh-so-common ambitiousness of plopping sleek modern projects into old-world ambiance, but I can also appreciate the allure of the intended contrast.

Madrid is certainly one city that can pull off unabashedly mixing its old-world syle with modern architecture. It’s easy to ooh and awe over iconic buildings like the palacio de comunicaciones while still gazing up in astonishment at the ultra-optimistic, ultra-modern 4 towers.

I’ve always been intrigued with Madrid’s seemingly senseless city planning. Some days, nothing makes sense to me, but passing by these buildings always gives me a sense that there is a higher design power in Madrid and they have one quirky sense of humor.

Designed by Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza , this building was completed in 1969. Hidden just a bit outside the center, it was my first architectural love in Madrid.
The Abc Museum Madrid
I don't know about iconic necessarily, but I do love how the Abc Museum has been plopped in the middle of a nowhere street in the city center. Odd and beautiful, this drawing and illustration museum designed by Aranguren and Gallegos is becoming one of Madrid's architectural stars.
Designed by famed architects Herzog & de Meuron, the Caixa Forum has quickly become a favorite of art-loving pedestrians strolling through Madrid's 'golden triangle' of museums.
You really can't talk about architectural schizophrenia without bringing up the Reina Sofia museum. While it may not be a 'hidden' gem necessarily, I couldn't leave it off my list. This building goes back to the 16th century, but has been transformed many times over. The latest makeover by French architect Jean Nouvel in 1999 added a very modern side to the back of this historic building, often confusing people as they find themselves entering through the past and leaving through the future.
This might be one of those "beauty is in the eye of the beholder " type of architectural projects, but its still cool. Designed by FOA, this bamboo covered social housing is an example of environmentally conscious design mixed with the social urbanization needs of the Madrid's ever-growing population.
I have very few words for this building. It was designed by MVRDV / Blanca Lleó Associates and is located in Sanchinarro. Other than that, I just don't know how to explain it or its existence. (*photo by Rob’t Hart)

Well, these are just a few of the many unique buildings that Madrid has to offer. There’s just so many beautiful and odd architectural projects going on in the city at any moment in time. I can’t wait to see the finished Civil Court by Zaha Hadid Architects or the new convention center by the 4 towers complex, but it looks like both projects are on hold for the moment. Damn crisis…

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5 Responses to Madrid’s Hidden Architecture

  1. Erin says:

    I’ve often marveled over that first, shall we say, scalloped one. The other day I actually asked Jacobo if he’d been inside, to which he said yes. Apparently when he was a kid, it was “the place” to live. He had a friend who lived there, I guess. Jacobo couldn’t seem to answer my question, though, about whether all the rooms were indeed round…

    On a related note, someone once told me La Caixa Forum is an old raised-up building – is that true? I suppose I could just Google it.

    • Hamatha says:

      Hey lady,
      I think the Caixa forum was an old power plant at one point. I love that building, and the white towers, which are neither white nor actual towers, but whatever. And yes, I think all of the rooms are curved inside. There’s actually a small replica by the same architect in Benidorm. And please don’t ask me how I know that….

  2. M in Madrid says:

    Hi there, just found your blog and I really love it.

    Well, this is just to say I was in Torres Blancas ages ago. The most impressive part for me was “el portal”, I felt as if I was getting in a Star Trek space ship, all bright and with those curvy things hanging from the ceiling (maybe gone now? they were soooo 70′s), and I was fascinated that there was a steep staircase going up from the kitchen… leading just to a door… or something, (it wasn’t a duplex) but despite my fascination I was never allowed to go up. Never new if it was the service entrance or just kind of access to a rubbish chute.

    I was 8, I hope that explains a lot of my peculiar perceptions.

    I don’t remember all the rooms, however they were not completely round, I clearly remember the living room that had had a curved wall, while the others were… normal. And I vagely recall the bathrooms but one of them I remember as very normal (and square). A good part of the curves was used in the balconies. Of course I only saw one apartment.

    Now, the funny thing is that I’ve also been to a building in Benidorm (don’t ask) that I thought when I first saw it “these is a tacky version of Torres Blancas”. So it must be the one you mean (Edificio Negurigane). Same thing again, only some walls are curved. Of course it’s like “comparar un huevo con una castaña”.

    • Hamatha says:

      M! Thanks for the comment and yes, I’ve also seen the Benidorm version (don’t ask!) and its also strange to me that he did a mini version. I mean, what architect just does a copy of another work in another city? It is weird…

      And don’t worry – I didn’t see any typos…:)

  3. M. says:

    LOL I see all the typos in my previous comment, oh well, at least I know I was tired…

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I don’t think the Negurigane building was by the same architect and Wikipedia confirms it was different architects (the geek in me had to check), but you know you can’t always trust the info there. That would explain a lot of the differences in quality (the building is full of cracks and crevices on the inside)… and all the rest.

    The outdoor pool in Negurigane is tiny for such a big building, more like a normal sized pool for tje standard family house in Las Rozas. If everybody who lives there went to the swimming pool at the same time, they would hardly be able to get in the water.

    The indoor pool is basically a big bathtub. It’s more or less in the middle of the building, you can see the façade has some larger windows, that’s where it is. It would be nice if it was in an aparment, but for the whole building? It’s a joke.

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