Thursday, June 11, 2009

History and future meet at Madrid's CaixaForum

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CaixaForum is the latest addition to the cultural scene of Madrid, and more precisely to the famous Museum triangle consisting of the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia.

Inaugurated in 2008 and sponsored by the Spanish bank La Caixa, the building was designed by the famous Swiss architect studio Herzog & de Meuron, a past winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize.

A missing story and a vertical garden
The building is a mind-boggling combination of old and new. Reconstructed from an old power plant Central Eléctrica del Mediodía, its first story has been — literally — chopped off making the building appear to be floating in air.

But what makes you stop at Madrid's CaixaForum is not the building at first; it is the spectacular 24 meters high vertical garden designed by Patric Blanc next to it.

Walking on Paseo del Prado, most tourists stop by for a photo-op in front of the wall, decorated by some 15,000 plants and 250 different species, before noticing the floating CaixaForum.


Suprising contradictions
While the exterior design of the CaixaForum is simply stunning, the interior doesn't leave you cold either. An interesting combination of traditional wood with futuristic metal structures, spacious rooms and funky stairways, the building is full of surprises and contradictions.

Coming through the entrance to the reception gives a back-to-the-future type of a sensation; visit the basement's auditoriums and you feel being inside a traditional Finnish building thanks to the wooden floors and walls.

While the building itself is worth the visit, there are interesting art exhibitions, seminars, musical performances and educational activities taking place in the building's premises.

A recent exhibition featured the French painter Maurice de Vlaminck's interesting works (check out some of his paintings).

Ever since Bilbao's spectacular Guggenheim, the motive has become "build, and they will come". Madrid's CaixaForum certainly leaves a lasting impression and is bound to attract much public interest in the coming years.

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