III - VI 2006
In the last years Madrid has gradually overcome its historic shortages and asserted its potential in the quest to become a world-level economic and cultural capital. While urban growth continues taking over peripheral territories and defining a new supraregional organization, Madrid improves strategic infrastructures such as the M-30 ringroad – recovering at the same time the banks of the Manzanares River as a vast urban park – or the Barajas Airport – with the new Terminal 4 fully operative by now. For its part, the economic energy of the largest companies becomes evident with the construction of new business headquarters, be it in the form of corporate cities that create huge office precincts on the city edges or in the form of skyscrapers like those that are going up on the Paseo de la Castellana, the main N-S avenue.
José Luis García Delgado
Domestic Culture. The extensions of the great museums on the Prado-Recoletos axis such as that of the Reina Sofía by Nouvel or that of the Prado by Moneo are joined by new centers like the CaixaForum by H&deM and the Museo de Colecciones Reales by Mansilla & Tuñón; other significant public works are the Bank of Spain by Moneo, the Canal Theater by Navarro, the Valle-Inclán Theater by Paredes & Pedrosa, the Price Circus and Theater by Bayón, the Agustín Lara Square and the UNED building by Linazasoro, the Salvador Dalí Square by Mangado, the Faculty of Pharmacy by Fresneda & Sanjuán and the EMT Headquarters by Estudio Cano Lasso; on the matter of public housing, included here are ten projects by foreign architects and ten works by Spanish ones, all promoted by the municipal company EMVS.
|Views and Reviews
From Paris to Rome. The inauguration of the Quai Branly Museum by Jean Nouvel in the French capital and of the Ara Pacis Museum by Richard Meier in the Eternal City bring modern architecture into historic contexts.
|Art / Culture
|Two Biennials. The second edition of the Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville focussed on uncanny art and on globalization; for its part, the tenth edition of the Venice Architecture Biennial gave full protagonism to cities.|| Juan Antonio Ramírez
|Classic and Modern. A monograph on Asplund and another on Plecnik rescue the oeuvre of two masters from the beginnings of the 20th century, both champions of classicism and forerunners of an alternative modernity.
Nieto & Sobejano
Three Works by Chipperfield. The internationalization of the firm led by the British architect has multiplied its number of commissions. The last works completed by the office go from the athletic dynamism of The America’s Cup pavilion in Valencia or the formal freedom of the Public Library in Iowa to the metaphysical austerity of the Museum of Literature in Marbach.
|Technique / Style
A Layered Fleet
|To close, Frank Gehry’s friendship with the director Sydney Pollack —who confesses to not being too acquainted with architecture— has materialized in a documentary film that, free from clichés or prejudice, explores the career and creative methods of the Canada-born American architect. A text by the critic Diego Galán describes the most significant aspects of this recent release.||Products
Furniture, Stone, Partitions
Madrid speeds up because Spain does so. The city’s unchecked growth reflects the unique dynamism of the country’s economy, which has in the capital the headquarters of the main corporations and its most powerful business engine. The rhythm of change is spectacular, and the striking scale of the urban mutation causes at once admiration and anxiety. Without a doubt, the current territorial shoot up stretches to the limit both the material tolerance of the urban grid and the immaterial resistance of the citizens’ patience, but even those most affected by the non-stop metropolitan construction works shall in the end accept the penance of confusion if the alternative to the disorderly energy of this boom is no other than the decline of a shrinking Madrid. Today, vibrating like a rocket under the impulse of its real-estate turbo, the shattered structure of the city breaks apart and comes together again with the ease of its economic fabric.
A study of the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s places Madrid among the five first economic centers of the world, according to a criterion that considers political, social and demographic factors, including development potential. The nine Spanish companies placed among the world’s 500 largest, as sociologist Mauro Guillén has stressed when commenting the list of Fortune, have their headquarters or decision centers in Madrid, giving it the sixth position in a ranking of global cities; the nine firms – Repsol YPF, Santander, Telefónica, Endesa, Cepsa, BBVA, Altadis, ACS and Iberdrola – also operate in sectors of high added value (services, energy and infrastructures), making them more competitive, and this business muscle is significantly reinforced with the frequent establishment in Madrid of the Latin American head offices of European multinationals, as well as of the European management centers of institutions and companies of Latin America.
This continent was the target of the first wave of Spanish acquisitions, which summed up 80,000 million euros between 1992 and 2001; the second period of acquisitions, centered on Great Britain (including O2, Abbey, BBA and Scottish Power), already adds up 83,000 million euros; and on the horizon one can already make out a third wave focussed on China, where Telefónica and BBVA have important buys under way. Such expansionist drive can be explained, according to The Financial Times, by the strength of an economy whose recent growth surpasses fourfold that of Germany, while the population increases with colossal migratory flows. This surge of human and monetary metabolism lies at the base of Madrid’s building vitality, and perhaps only a sudden burst of the real-estate bubble may halt the rushed pace of the country and its capital, breaking the vicious or virtuous circle that transfers the vertigo of stock market charts to urban profiles.