Salón de Reinos, Prado Museum


The competition brief called for the restoration of the historic Hall of Realms at the Palacio del Buen Retiro at the Museo del Prado campus in Madrid and to create additional display space for permanent and temporary exhibitions.

The Hall of Realms (Salón de Reinos) built by Crescenzi and Carbonel in the 1630’s is a noble structure and one of the very few that have survived from the former Palacio del Buen Retiro of the seventeenth century, it predates the Museum which was conceived in 1819. However, it has been the subject of changes and expansion, gathering many layers of history over the centuries. Two centuries after its construction the transformation and expansion of this historic hall will add significant new galleries and related public spaces to the Prado. 

The vision for the refurbishment of the historic Hall of Realms is to reveal the memories buried within the existing fabric, by rediscovering the original 17th century façade – which will become the primary exhibit of the new museum. Using solid historical evidence, the layers will be peeled back to create a social magnet that will cater to the millions of visitors that visit the Museo del Prado every year.

At the heart of the new building will be a public ground floor, with free exhibitions, shop, cafe, and gathering spaces for everyone. This plaza will be liberated by opening up the present-day south façade and removing the existing multiple level changes, allowing ease of movement through the building. Between the original 17th century façade and the present day envelope – a space that encapsulates the story of the building –the floor slabs will be removed to reveal the full extent of the facades, creating a spectacular new indoor public space for special events, gatherings and dinners. This could also become an extension of the city flowing in and embracing the Prado as a public loggia

The neglected roof – in need of urgent repair – will be replaced by new state-of-the-art gallery spaces that are better suited to the demands of contemporary museums. Its roof panels will be fully tuneable for natural light or black-outs, allowing flexibility over light levels for different exhibits. The new roof will also set new standards for sustainability, harvesting energy from integrated solar cells, while creating shade on the southern façade. All services, including vehicular access, that are needed to make the building work will be moved underground for efficiency, security and to create a vibrant public realm in the heart of Madrid.

A holistic vision for the future, the proposals for the Prado Campus stitch together the city – both physically and historically – bringing clarity to the visitor experience, and opening up the building to the city. The project goes beyond creating new gallery spaces, expanding on the role of the museum as a contemporary cultural institution, not just as a custodian of history but as an active participant in the everyday life of the city.

The addition of this building to the Museo del Prado’s Campus, will form part of the Museum’s 200th anniversary celebrations in 2019.

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