Madrid – CaixaForum

MúzeumCafé 5.

Museum policy has played an important role for the new Spain’s left-wing governments. The museum buildings or reconstructions in Bilbao (Guggenheim), Barcelona (MACBA), Valencia (IVAM) and Bajadoz (MEIAC) demonstrate the strength of the process. A huge former hospital building from the 18th century near the Prado was converted into a contemporary arts centre to the design of Antonio Ferdandez Alba, José Luis Iñiguez de Ozoño and Antonio Vázquez de Castro within the framework of the Reina Sofia Museum. Similarly to the Beaubourg, glass lifts were attached to the side of the building, which has a square ground-plan and an enclosed inner garden. The space in front of the entrance was also shaped according to the Parisian example. A new wing designed by Jean Nouvel housing temporary exhibitions, a library, restaurant and shops opened in 2005. In this urban context, in the immediate vicinity of the museums, extended and reconstructed spaces, a new institution and public space, a real urban plaza, the CaixaForum has emerged, converted from an industrial monument, a 19th-century power station, to the design of the Swiss architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre deMeuron, along with Patrick Blac’s vertical garden. The CaixaForum, which is a foundation of one of the largest Spanish financial institutions, is an ‘urban sensation’ whose context is established partly by the buildings in its neighbourhood and partly by the global media space, attracting a share of which is such an important factor that another location offering permanent events was required in addition to the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia museums.