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Fosters sees off strong competition to win Madrid museum job

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Foster + Partners has beaten an impressive shortlist, including David Chipperfield and OMA, to win the overhaul of Madrid’s iconic Hall of Realms

The top-ranked AJ100 practice teamed up with Madrid’s Rubio Arquitectura to land the project which will transform the historic Hall of Realms  – known locally as the Salón de Reinos – into a 1,765m² new wing for the nearby Prado Museum.

Built in 1635, the landmark structure was originally part of Alonso Carbonell’s enormous Buen Retiro Palace which was mostly demolished in the 19th century.

The Prado Museum purchased the Hall of Realms last year after its previous occupant – Madrid’s army museum – relocated.

Practice founder Norman Foster said: ‘On behalf of the team that I led at Foster + Partners in collaboration with Rubio Arquitectura, I would like to say how honoured we are to contribute to this next phase of the expansion of the Prado – one of the truly great museums of the world.

‘The Hall of Realms, built by Crescenzi and Carbonel in the 1630s, is one of the very few remains of the former palace and predates the museum, which was conceived in 1819. Two centuries later the transformation and expansion of this historic hall will add significant new galleries and related public spaces to the Prado. It will also create, as a setting, a new urban focus for the city of Madrid.’

The addition of the building to the Museo del Prado’s campus is expected to complete in 2019 to coincide with the museum’s 200th anniversary celebrations.

The full shortlist

  • Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
  • Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
  • B720 Arquitectuos and David Chipperfield Architects
  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) Stedebouw
  • Souto Moura Arquitectos, Juan Miguel Hernández León, and Carlos de Riaño Lozano
  • Foster + Partners and Rubio Arquitectura
  • Garces de Seta Bonet Arquitectes and Pedro Feducci Canosa
  • Gluckman Tang Architects, Estudio Álvarez Sala, and Arquitectura Enguita y Lasso de la Vega

The architect’s view

The Hall of Realms is a noble structure and one of the very few that have survived from the former Palacio del Buen Retiro of the 17th century. It has been the subject of changes and expansion, gathering many layers of history over the centuries.

The interventions will bring fresh life to the magnificent interiors from the past as well as adding new state-of-the-art galleries and public spaces. The proposal goes back four centuries to rediscover the original three-storey southern façade. This becomes the backdrop for a spectacular new space within the building. The existing outer walls have been delicately opened up to bring light and views in from the new civic plaza.

The transformed Hall of Realms will be permeable, offering a new public route through the building with terrace cafés on the north side.

Working within the outline of the original building envelope, a new roof will harvest energy from integrated solar cells, give natural light to the galleries below and cantilever as a shade to protect the southern façade. It also heralds the rebirth of this historic monument.

Norman foster p12715 fp601816 indesign

Norman foster p12715 fp601816 indesign

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