Caixa Forum
Herzog & de Meuron

March 31, 2008 /

Madrid, Spain

Photo: @ Christian Richters

The surprising sculptural aspect of the CaixaForum's silhouette reflects the roofscape of the surrounding buildings. The CaixaForum i located in the heart of the city's cultural district, facing the Paseo del Prado, in close proximity to the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.

Conceived as an urban magnet, not only for art-lovers but also for the building itself, the architects lifted the building off the ground, in apparent defiance of the laws of gravity, to draw visitors inside.

Photo: @ Christian Richters

The museum is housed in a converted 1899 power station, one of the city's few remaining examples of historically significant industrial architecture, that was acquired by the Caixa Foundation in 2001.

An insignificant gas station was demolished to create a small plaza between the Paseo del Prado and the new CaixaForum. The classified brick walls of the former power station are reminiscences of the early industrial age in Madrid, while the gas station, a purely functional structure, was clearly out of place.

A 24 meter high vertical garden, designed in collaboration with the botanist Patrick Blanc, takes up one wall of the square.

The garden establishes a connection with the Botanical Garden and the landscape of the Paseo del Prado.

/Jacques Herzog

Photo: @ Christian Richters

Photo: @ Christian Richters

The only material of the old power station that we could use was the classified brick shell. In order to conceive and insert the new architectural components of the CaixaForum Project, we began with a surgical operation, separating and removing the base and the parts of the building no longer needed. This opened a completely novel and spectacular perspective that simultaneously solved a number of problems posed by the site.

The removal of the base of the building left a covered plaza under the brick shell, which now appears to float above the street level. This sheltered space under the CaixaForum offers its shade to visitors who want to spend time or meet outside and is at the same time the entrance to the Forum itself. Problems such as the narrowness of the surrounding streets, the placement of the main entrance, and the architectural identity of this contemporary art institution could be addressed and solved in a single urbanistic and sculptural gesture.
/Herzog & de Meuron

Photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Photo: @ Christian Richters

Photo: @ Christian Richters

The separation of the structure from the ground level created two worlds; one below and the other above the ground. The "underworld" buried beneath the topographically landscaped plaza provides space for a theater/auditorium, service rooms, and several parking spaces.

The multi-storied building above ground houses the entrance lobby and galleries, a restaurant and administrative offices. There is a contrast between the flexible and loft-like character of the exhibition spaces and the spatial complexity of the top floor with its restaurant/bar and the offices.

Photo: @ Christian Richters

Photo: @ Christian Richters

Photo: @ Christian Richters

Photo: @ Christian Richters

Photo: @ Christian Richters

Photo: @ Christian Richters

The new CaixaForum will house expanded programming that includes music, literature, film, and social and educational programs, similar to the mix at its sister center in Barcelona.

The opening show includes 37 works by contemporary artists such as Cindy Sherman, Cornelia Parker, Richard Long, Anselm Kiefer and Georg Baselitz (until April 6, 2008).

Photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Model photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Model photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Model photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Sketch © Herzog & de Meuron

Schematic © Herzog & de Meuron

Schematic © Herzog & de Meu

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Level + 0

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Level - 1

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Level - 2

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Level + 1

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Level + 2

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Level + 4

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Roof level28caixa.jpg
Drawing © Herzog & de MeuronSection


Facts about Caixa Forum

Building site:

1,934 m2
Plaza: 650 m2
Gross Floor Area: 11,000 m2
Building Footprint: 1,400 m2


Herzog & de Meuron
Jacques Herzog
Pierre de Meuron
Harry Gugger
Project Architects:
Peter Ferretto, Associate
Carlos Gerhard, Associate
Stefan Marbach, Associate
Benito Blanco: Project Manager

Project Team:
Heitor Garcia Lantaron
Estelle Grosberg
Pedro Guedes
Michel Kehl
Miguel Marcelino
Gabi Mazza
Beatrice Noves Salto
Margarita Salmeron
Stefano Tagliacarne
Project Management:
Servihabitat, Barcelona, Spain
Construcción i Control, Barcelona, Spain
General Contractor: Ferrovial Agroman, Madrid, Spain
Structural Engineering:
WGG Schnetzer Puskas Ingenieure, Basel, Switzerland
NB35, Madrid, Spain

MEP Engineering:
Urculo Ingenieros, Madrid, Spain

Facade Consulting:
Emmer Pfenninger Partner AG, Basel, Switzerland
ENAR, Madrid, Spain
Lighting: Arup Lighting, London, UK
Acoustics: Audioscan, Barcelona, Spain

Green Wall:
Herzog & de Meuron in collaboration with Patrick Blanc, Artist-Botanist, Paris, France

Green Wall Consultant:
Benavides & Lapèrche, Madrid, Spain


Obra Social Fundación "LaCaixa"
Caixa d'Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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