Suspended architecture, data aesthetics and tree trunks in Madrid

0aaavixxz.jpgI’ve spent the last few days in Madrid to spy on the Visualizar workshop which is currently taking place at Medialab Prado. There are some pretty interesting projects developed. If you’re curious about them, there will be an official presentation of the projects on Wednesday, 28th at 8 pm and an exhibition will follow until January 5 but in the meantime anyone can swing by and visit the works in progress. Mediators will show you around. If that’s not enough to stimulate your curiosity, there are the new versions of two installations developed during the Interactivos? workshop last Spring. First one is outside the building, it’s the new and even more impressive version of Pablo Valbuena´s Augmented Sculpture. The other work is inside Medialab Prado and it’s the AR Magic System created by Clara Boj and Diego Diaz.

Note that Medialab Prado has a new location, close to the Paseo del Prado.
On Friday, Edgar Gonzalez and i went for a walk at the Parco del Retiro to have a look at one of the most spectacular site-specific installations i’ve seen in a long time.

Andy Goldsworthy‘s En las entrañas del árbol (Inside the Stomach of the Tree) made me feel like i was inside a poly-sensorial Matriotchka. There we were standing inside a cozy wooden dome, contained inside the luminous Cristal Palace, right in the middle of the beautiful Parco del Retiro, a man-crafted landscape situated inside one of the liveliest European capital. The rooms are built using tightly packed tree trunks that gradually become narrower as the construction gains height. The wood smells nice. The daylight is filtering softly through the interstices and a big hole on top of each dome allows you to see the ski, through the glass panels of the Cristal Palace.

Built to be entirely self-supporting, or with a minimum of fixings, the work comprises three joined structures which follow the architecture of the Palacio de Cristal.

Goldsworthy built his first large wood dome in 2005. This one is the biggest to date and it comfortably acomodates several people. The inspiration for the domes comes from a 1983 performance work that Goldsworthy undertook in 1983, for which he climbed into a small hole in the base of a Sycamore tree. En las entrañas del árbol is an attempt to recreate this experience of “being in the stomach of the tree”.

0aaunoeg8.jpg0aaunodfe3.jpgEn las entrañas del árbol has been built using Scots Pine from the forests in the mountains to the north of Madrid which supplies timber for commercial products. Already harvested, Goldsworthy has temporarily diverted the wood stock from its commercial route. Each trunk and branch will be recycled.

On view until January, 21, 2008 at the Palacio de Cristal (“Crystal Palace”, a glass pavilion inspired by The Crystal Palace in London and projected in 1887 by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. My forbidden images.


The good thing about walking around the city with an architect is that they make you raise your head or look through fences and notice buildings that you would otherwise have ignored. That’s how i got to see how Herzog & de Meuron are transforming an ex-power station into the spectacular new headquarters of Caixa Forum‘s Obra Social (a social and cultural centre). And the building is situated right in front of Medialab Prado.

The old building is elevated above the street which makes for a slightly surreal view as the whole structure seems to “levitate” above the ground.


French superstar landscape architect Patrick Blanc has already graced one of the walls of the building with one of his vertical gardens, vegetation tapestries that provide green space without eating up square footage (you can already admire some of them in Paris).

Other works By Herzg & de Meuron: Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, the Cottbus University Library, Munich’s football arena, etc.
Here are my pics but Plataforma arquitectura has more images.