MADRID (ES) - Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron were commissioned by the La Caixa Foundation to convert a former power station into its new cultural centre in Madrid. The building rises above the street, leaving a covered square that acts as an anteroom to the new arts centre. Located close to the Paseo del Prado, the new Caixa Forum will complement other cultural offerings in this zone, which boasts some of Spain's most important museums.
The programme is divided into an underground section containing the auditorium and the car park, and an aboveground section with a foyer, two floors of exhibition space, offices and a restaurant. The building's image is determined by the Cor-Ten steel addition on top of the existing brick complex and the 'mur végétal' that screens the street facade on the street corner. This part of the project was entrusted to the French botanist Patrick Blanc, who has previously collaborated with, among others, Jean Nouvel and Edouard François. The living wall has a surface area of 460 m2 and features 15,000 plants of 250 different species.
The vertical garden of the Caixa Forum is the first one to be installed in Spain. It is formed by three principal elements: a metal frame, PVC sheets and acrylic felt. It is 24 metres high and approximately one metre thick. The distribution of the plants on the wall has been done in such a way that species needing a lot of light have been placed in the higher sections, while forest-floor plants requiring less light are located lower down. (Gonzalo Herrero Delicado)