Levels of Intervention at the Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain)

El Museo Reina Sofia is the museum of modern and contemporary art in Madrid. The Reina Sofia comes secondary to the Prado when one thinks of art museums in Spain, however architecturally it is a fascinating example of adaptive reuse, or as discussed in class, the “rehabilitation” of a site.

Some background: The museum is situated on a busy lot in Madrid, very close to many tourist sites like the Museo del Prado, the Thyssen and the Atocha station. The building was originally a 19th century hospital and was modified and adapted as a hospital until the 1960s when it was shut down.

Much of the original integrity is maintained and in a sense the building itself becomes an attraction to the visitor, not just the art. I was unaware of the history of the building when I first visited but promptly did some research after clearly seeing that it was adaptive reuse. The plan of the building is a square with a central courtyard and two winged pavilions on the front side. The core of the building is made up of long hallways looking out onto the courtyard that connected to what was originally many small rooms facing outward. The rooms are no combined into long gallery spaces (thus many of the original doorways are closed up, yet the original stone was left to denote its former existence.) The hallways make circulation through the galleries frustrating as a visitor, however it does force people to see more of the building and the artwork.

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