Herzog & de Meuron’s Newest Architectural Creation Unveiled
Madrid has unveiled it’s latest addition to the global arts scene in the form of the CaixaForum, a Herzog & de Meuron designed contemporary art museum housed in a converted 1899 power station. Costing $94m the museum was funded by the Caixa Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Spanish bank Caixa d’Estalvis, and one of its main functions will be to show selections from the Foundation’s own impressive collection of more than 700 works of art. The Art Newspaper reports on the impressive architecture:
The building—one of the city’s few remaining examples of historically significant industrial architecture—was acquired by the foundation in 2001. The 19th-century brick walls have been retained, but raised on piers so that visitors can walk underneath the building. There are two underground floors, while a two-floor attic storey of rusted iron surmounts the original building.
“The fact that its heavy mass is detached from the ground in apparent defiance of the laws of gravity is not a magic thing, given the possibilities of 21st-century technology,” says architect Jacques Herzog, “but a need to explore the limits of freedom. The CaixaForum has been conceived as an urban magnet, attracting not only art-lovers but all the people of Madrid and those from outside the city. We wanted to surprise. A building must be like a new outfit of clothes for the city—always a bit sexy.”
As striking as the architectural conversion is the 460 sq. m, 24-metre high vertical garden that takes up one wall of the square in front of the building. Comprising 15,000 plants of 250 different species, it has being designed by botanist Patrick Blanc.
“The garden is a dialogue with the Botanical Garden on the street and adjacent to the Prado,” says Herzog. “We love to make new things, to experiment with materials and create a very unusual encounter between the rough and the natural, the smooth and the artificial, to incorporate nature so there can be the smell of a garden where you would not expect it.”