International Competition to design the widing of the museum with new buildings
Project: Celestino Soddu & Enrica Colabella

December 1995

General Organisation and town-planning aspects.
Our design proposal about the general organisation of the micro urban system that has the centre in the Prado Museum is in syntony with the historical characterisation of this particular urban environment. And our design proposal wish to increase this particular identity. Because we can preserve the urban identity only preserving its evolution and not freezing the environment.

Our subjective approach to the environment all around the J. de Villanueva building if finalised to enlight the reciprocity between the historical and incoming architectures, using the texture of complex geometry that harmonises the different architectures redefining their roles and hierarchies. We design an integration where the historical differences, the typological and morphological differences mirror and amplify themselves. A sequence of different spaces belonging to the same environment to the same urban identity that the visitor can discover walking through the heart, the pulsing engine of this environment. We want not to realise a museum as neutral scene. The museum is a laboratory to develop the cultural research, and the architecture, the 3rd and 4th dimension is a field to use for increasing the identity and uniqueness of this particular environment. But the space must be designed to be adaptive, and not neutral, to the incoming requests.

Architectural Concept
The relationship between the historical architectures and the new ones is realised if all these architectures belong to the same level of complexity. And the complexity of the architectural image is one of the characteristic of the Spanish Architecture and environment. The environment can gain this complexity living its history, stratifying experiences and formalising the answers, but also, during the design procedures, living a virtual life and stratifying complexity.
We have realised our design proposal designing the genetic code that represent our idea about Spain, Madrid, and the Museo del Prado. Using this code, that is an original software that we have realised for this project, we have generated a sequence of possible scenarios of the environment that has the J. de Villanueva building as centre. Using the Artificial Life, these scenarios has lived their "historical" evolution, increasing their complexity. Our final proposal is one of these scenarios, the one that has acquired the more interesting complexity and reconnaissability.

Functional organisation by areas.
The project is organised in three functional blocks. The first, that we call the "Bridge" is the building in the back of the J. de Villanueva building, the second, that we call the "Bubble", is the main entrance with a cupola that organise the two main different levels of this town environment, the third, that we call the "Pinta", is the building near the Iglesia San Jeronimo el Real.

The "Bridge" is a building performed by three floors: the underground floor that includes and amplifies the existing engine room, structuring the technical support for the whole museum system. The ground floor (at the same level of the ground floor of Villanueva building) ii 7.70 meters high and is organised with a central hall and two lateral spaces. The function of these spaces is the temporary exhibitions, and it is possible to use the fluorescent artificial light or the natural lights. The upper floor, with the same high of 7.70 meters, is dedicated to the sculpture collection. It is possible to use the natural light and the fluorescent one, and the space is organised in one large central hall, covered with a cupola and in two other different spaces in which it is possible to organise a cafeteria and a restaurant.
The "Bubble" is the entrance structure to the museum system, with the ticket office and the information hall. This entrance is reserved to the visitors group (the single visitors can enter directly in the Villanueva building) and is organised in two different spaces: the entrance and the information hall. These spaces are in the same level of the ground floor of the Villanueva building, at the back after the bus parking. The information hall is under the square in front of the Iglesia, under the parvis of the church, and it is organised with computerised information tools regarding the Prado Museum and Madrid. The entrance is in front of the "Pinta", but at the level of the bus park. It is covered with a cupola that is the environment sign in the upper path in front of the Iglesia. From this entrance it is possible to go to the new building and, through that, to the J. de Villanueva building. In the other side it is possible to go to the "Pinta", the new building near the church and, with a underground passage, to the Cason del Buen Retiro and to the Army Museum.

The "Pinta" is the building near the Iglesia S. Jeronimo el Real. It is structured in three floors and one underground access from the "Bubble". The ground floor (at a level of four meters more than the ground floor of Villanueva building) is eleven meters high, and the other two are six meters high. It is possible, using this high, to organise the functional use in double levels, in front of the contingents needs. In the ground floor there is the entrance of the offices and departments of the Prado system, and it is located the Library. In the upper floor there are the Departments, the Offices, the Conference Hall and the offices of the parish, that are reachable directly from the church and are not interfering with the museum areas. At the first floor there is the claustro, that is the centre of this building.

Museum and safety criteria
Our proposal born from an idea of Museum articulated, interlaced with the past, the present and the future, with the challenge to get the time with a project based on a synchronous complexity. The focus is to gain the museum quality with an European characterisation, amplifying the cultural heritage of the differences, of the uniqueness of every particular history.
To gain that is to gain a very high quality level, a sophisticated level that, respecting the tradition, get the new-events dynamic, use these events as possible echo of a particular environmental beauty. These new events may be, with their fullness of significance, the unpredictable points of application to preserve the identity and uniqueness of this environment. This is a possible reply to the contemporary city problems, and to one of the most important one: the homologation of the urban image.
The identity, the preservation in progress of this identity is strictly interlaced with the urban quality. The safety criteria .Our proposal want to gain, simultaneously, the target of preservation, safety and comfort. The comfort of easy and economic management of the museum system, but also the easy identification, for the visitors, of their subjective path of discovery. The system of buildings is complex, but not complicated.
We have organised only one main entrance for the visitors group and, near here, there is the information unity where it is possible, for a large number of persons, to have, together, the key to read and to enter into the wonderful experience of the Art.
All the exhibition spaces are directly reachable from this entrance, without any other ticket and security problems.

first upgrade date: October 25 1996

The Authors

mail to Prof. Celestino Soddu

All the 3D models, images and papers that are on this site are protected by law.
All rights reserved.
Copyright 1996/1997 by C.Soddu.

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