31.10.2009

Centre for Contemporary Culture in a Former Slaughterhouse in Madrid

In a number of phases, the Matadero, a former slaughterhouse compound built in the early 20th century in Madrid, is to be transformed by 2011 into a multi-disciplinary cultural centre. Hall 17c is now home to Intermediæ, an institute for contemporary art, which intends first and foremost to shed light on creative processes, as well to foster experimentation and interaction. The architects limited their interventions to a bare minimum – probably due, as well, to a budget of only 700 000 euros. All of the vestiges of the past remain visible, e.g. the residue of cork insulation which recalls the former use as cold storage, as well as evidence of repair work, for example, of the columns. Missing portions of walls were left untouched, as if they had just been jackhammered; ducts and wiring are surface mounted and remain visible. These interventions are clearly legible, and are, in the architects’ words, “very few, very rigorous, very clean and very straight”. To this end they employ materials typically used in industrial settings, off-the-shelf, without further processing. A large steel sliding door in an exterior wall of the compound points the way, via a gently inclined steel ramp and then through a steel sliding door, to the foyer. Here a long counter – made of welded steel plate – dominates a space otherwise almost completely untouched. An office and the sanitary facilities are situated behind the counter, both also clad in steel plate. Polished concrete was selected as floor material here and in the adjacent, multi-functional halls. A glass box in a long room along the southwest facade contains the only climatized space. Sectional steel, primarily in the form of steel channels, are used here in a variety of ways: as floor material – both standard and in raised flooring – and as profiles to hold glazing in place.
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