*Diagrams and research
01. 17th century palace complex enclosing a courtyard
01. Remaining wing isolated within its current urban context
02. Symmetrical elevation
02. Broken symmetry
03. Original entry on axis
03. Entry along front façade
04. Frontal access at midpoint
04. Sinking, elongated access
05. Circulation on axis between rooms
05. Circulation deterred, visually present inaccessible axis
06. Linear, horizontally organized circulation
06. Episodic, vertically organized circulation
07. Shallow public space surrounding the building
07. Recessed and extended public space
08. Elevated public plinth in back
08. Sunken public plaza in front and under
What Difference Does It Make?
An iconic building rooted in the past, the Hall of Realms presently remains invisible. Our thesis subverts the Prado Museum extension through a series of interventions that challenge the existing characteristics of a building weighed down by its own historic status. To transgress the prior typology of a government institution, we misused its essential features, reorienting an expected encounter into an unforeseen discovery.
Formerly a 17th-century private seat of power destined to become a public container of culture, the Hall of Realms competition falls into the all too familiar trope of a palace-to-museum conversion that produces a building we know how to occupy and relate to.
Altering architectural features such as symmetry, access, circulation, and ground, the project forces us to rethink our relationship to the past. Instead of reinforcing old ways of inhabiting cultural institutions, these changes provoke different ways of occupying and moving through the space of the museum.
Between the two extremes of placing the existing building on a pedestal or overwhelming it with entirely new architecture, this thesis is quietly different – posing an alternative to the dichotomy of old versus new that dominates restoration projects today. The interventions alter the nature of the architecture in a way that neither ennobles nor diminishes the previous renditions of the building. Liberated from the division between past and future, the building shifts to be present.
Transmuting the building to obscure the distinction of an addition, our thesis is at once old and new, (un)obtrusive in its subversion, uncanny in its differences.
Produced with Tamara Birghoffer
Instructed by Russell Thomsen