Among amid.cero9’s various scale projects all over the world, the Francisco Giner foundation in Madrid, located on architects hometown is no exception in terms of social, historical, natural, and urban contexts.
Brief information on the foundation would help to understand the design decisions and interventions on the project. In 1884 Francisco Giner de los Ríos and Manuel Bartolomé Cossío installed the headquarters of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza (ILE) in a garden in the outskirts of Madrid, today Paseo de General Martínez Campos 14. There, they lived and opened a private school in which they set in motion their own educational methods. In the institute, the students had close relations with nature as a part of the innovative educational program.
The foundation was founded in 1916 following the death of Giner de los Rios to continue his work and to conserve his material and cultural. In 2003, the Board of Trustees of the foundation launched a competition for the rehabilitation and expansion of the historic headquarters. Amid.cero9’s proposal won the competition with their design focused on respecting the historical and educational values of the foundation and the site.
The new buildings configure us as a three-dimensional enclosure that is placed on the edge of the lot to leave free the center where to plant a garden. As an important historical feature of the institute, the garden deserves a special note; a circulation system of “S” snaking through the garden was realized on a reconstructed granite path in the original site. The access points in the buildings open up to this inner garden/courtyard designed by landscape architect Teresa Galí-Izard. Having the garden as the central feature of the complex supports the foundational educational ideals of the institute by creating a connection between the users and the landscape, indoor and outdoor, humanmade and natural. Following the entrance towards the end of the lot, the courtyard ends with a vertical garden on a flat façade.
The concept of the project is defined as “the collective memory” by Amid.cero9, therefore, making available the access of open air for everyone to sustain the heritage of the institute was one of the most significant features of the project.
The classrooms in the complex have direct access to the outdoor either physically or visually, creating fences surrounding the garden while providing a connection between inner and outer spaces. The rooms do not follow a strict direction in terms of orientation and are ‘flexible’ spaces made possible with the hanging systems allowing the control of the lighting and acoustics. As for the formal composition of the volumes and classrooms, they follow the geometry in the garden, allowing the spatial experience to be a part of the learning experience.
The new pavilions in the complex all have the same façade organization and material allowing the daylight control. Firstly the superimposed lattices of three-layered small-scale steel rods provide physical privacy and the enclosed boundary between the pavilions and the exteriors while creating a semi-private space by diminishing the visual access to the classroom and reducing the relationship with the garden with the help daylight filtering in the inner space. The configuration of these layering surfaces creates enclosed fences within the lot affecting the relationship both inside of the foundation’s boundaries and between each other as well as with the rest of the neighborhood.
Finally, the basement level hosts an auditorium for public events. There, large openings provide an enclosed bordering space while ensuring the spatial float and a visual connection to numerous spaces and surfaces facing onto the auditorium.