From an urban perspective, the project is based on two fundamental principles: on the one hand, the Royal Collections Museum should be part of the natural/artificial landscape of Madrid’s western edge, and on the other, it is necessary to maintain the open public nature of La Almunena Square and preserve views of the parks and gardens beneath the western lip of the city. The Museum, in its linear structure becomes an inhabited retaining wall, thus reducing the objective (physical) and subjective (collective subconscious) impact on the monumental plinth of the Royal Palace.
The aim is to produce a building that is invisible from La Almudena Square by occupying the space underground. The Royal Collections Museum completes the plinth of the Royal Palace, constructing a linear space that follows the lines of the Palace itself. A simple and compact building, a construction that is aware that maximum flexibility and potential are only possible within a strict order. It uses the materials of the Royal Palace and its dignified construction as a feature, with a modern layout, heavy yet light, opaque yet transparent.
The three exhibition levels –again equal yet different- hold three differentiated collections: tapestries, paintings and carriages. Each space is organised like a warehouse measuring one hundred and fifty by twenty metres, flanked by the remains of the Arab wall to the east and a monumental lattice composed of massive granite pillars to the west, opening to views above the Campo del Moro Royal Gardens.
The views across the gardens happen in the space between the structural elements, just like the pillars are matter between voids. The space is the rhythm of the beams, and the installations are the interface between the elements that hold the building up. Structure, illumination, 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 from the inside. The most important things already exist; our job is to make them visible.
TECHNICAL DATA. Location: Palacio Real, Madrid, Spain. Architects: Luis M. Mansilla and Emilio Tuñón. Client: Patrimonio Nacional. Collaborators: Matilde Peralta, Rubén Arend, Andrés Regueiro, Clara Moneo, Teresa Cruz, Jaime Gimeno, Stefania Previati, David Nadal, Oscar F. Aguayo, Carlos Martínez de Albornoz, Asa Nakano, María José Castillón, Javier González Galán, Mila Moskalenko. Structural engineers: Alfonso Gómez Gaite. Mechanical engineers: J.G. Asociados. Quantity Surveyor/Technical Architect: Santiago Hernán and Juan Carlos Corona. Competition: 2002. Design project: 2003. General contractor: FCC. Built area: 40.000 m2. Photographer: SURAVIA.