According to the panel of judges chairman, Jesús Aparicio, “[…] a sprawling museum that further enhances Madrid’s most iconic cityscape known as “la Cornisa”, tying in beautifully with the existing Royal Palace.” From an urban perspective, the project is based on two planning principles: on the one hand, the Royal Collection museum should be part of the natural-artificial landscape of Madrid’s western edge, and on the other hand, it is necessary to maintain the open, public nature of La Almudena Square and preserve the views of the gardens beneath the western lip of the city.
Royal Collections Museum in Madrid, Spain, by Mansilla + Tuñón Architects.
BigMat ’17 National Prize in Spain
Project title: Royal Collection Museum
Location: Madrid, Spain
Office: Mansilla + Tuñon Architects
Authors: Emilio Tuñon Álvarez, architect, Luis Moreno Mansilla, architect
Collaborators: Carlos Brage Tuñón (Architect), Alfonso Gómez Gaite (Structural Engineer), JG Asociados (Mechanical Engineer), Santiago Esteban Hernán (Quantity Surveyor), Luis Baena Núñez (Building Engineer)
Type of work: Public
Photographs: Luis Asín Lapique
In words of Paulo David (Portugal+Spain member of the panel of judges): “How to refine the search for an invisibility? by introducing a new body that affirms itself as a programmatic and material extension. By enabling a cross with the particularities of the royal palace. By relating different times and re-inscribing the accuracy of the historical adjustment. By sharpening the beauty of all times. By playing within the duality between the heavy and the light, the transparent and the opaque. By showing the dialog between nature and artifice, through a reduction of the environmental, individual and collective impact. By intervening with the full awareness that rigorous rationality is the path to maximum flexibility. The proposal becomes clearer when living in an “inhabited retaining wall”, seeking, in this logic, to relate to the palace.
The Museum, in its linear structure as an inhabited containment wall, seeks to reduce the objective (physical) and subjective (collective unconscious) environmental impact on the monumental plinth of the Royal Palace. The aim is to have a building that is invisible from La Almudena Square by occupying a buried space that does not yet to exist. The Royal Collection Museum contains the plinth of the Royal Palace, constructing a linear space that follows the lines of the Palace itself.
A simple, compact building, a construction that is aware that maximum flexibility and potential is only possible within a strict order, using the materials of the Royal Palace and its dignified construction as a feature, with a modern layout that is heavy yet light, opaque yet transparent. The three exhibition levels, equal yet different, hold three distinct collections: first: tapestries, second: paintings, sculptures and various items and third: carriages.
Each space is organized like a warehouse of 110×16 meters, flanked by the remains of the Arab wall to the east and a monumental lattice composed of massive granite pillars open to the west above the Campo del Moro Royal Gardens.
The views across the gardens are the space between the structures, just as the pillars are matter between voids. The space is the rhythm of the beams, and the installations are the interface between what holds the building up. Structure, lighting, views, space, and infrastructure all have blurred edges and exchanged attributes.
The Royal Collections Museum is a plinth for the Palace from the outside; a frame for views of the gardens and the interior features. The most important part already exists; our job is to make it visible.