The slaughterhouse and livestock market of Arganzuela had always been an open project with scope for growth. Surrounded by a wall measuring 2,500 meters, and covering a surface area of 165,415 sq. meters, Luis Bellido and González’s project was structured around a set of pavilions used for different purposes and services. These included management and administration, livestock market, sanitary services, vehicle depots, stalls and even a rail service.
In the wake of the civil war, other purposes were attributed to the site and the potato storage warehouse was built in 1940, later to be transformed into a glasshouse in 1992. From 1970, the slaughterhouse’s facilities began to fall into disuse, leading, in the 1990s, to the first renovation projects. In 1983, architect Rafael Fernández-Rañada transformed the old management and administration area. This building now corresponds to Arganzuela municipal council’s headquarters, better known as la Casa del Reloj (Clock House). In 1987, the same architect undertook the project to refurbish the stable and calf market warehouse to host sociocultural activities.
From 1990 to 1996, the architect Antonio Fernández Alba transformed the former cattle stalls into headquarters for the Spain’s National Ballet and National Dance Company. In 1996, the slaughterhouse was definitively closed as such, and one year later the site was registered in Spain’s 1997 general urban planning charter.
In 2003, Madrid’s City Council decided to hand the site over to sociocultural purposes and, subsequently, revision of the previous plans began. On the 26th of September 2005, changes to the special intervention and the architectural adaptation and urban-environmental control plan were approved. The project would respect the former municipal slaughterhouse’s architecture, with the purpose of converting 75% of the space to cultural use.
From then onwards, new interventions were initiated in order to convert the space in a center for creative assistance. It became a place of new architectural experiment, following the Special Plan’s criteria, which focused on the conservation of the surroundings. The main line of intervention centered on reversibility, meaning the buildings could easily be reconverted into their original states. By deliberately keeping vestiges of the past, the project wanted to accentuate the experimental character that the institutions would possess. One of the project’s main aims was to find a balance between a respect for the architectural space and a specific provision. This provision would limit the use of industrial materials and would, simultaneously, provide the necessary space for the activities to be held.
The architect Arturo Franco restored the hall (Paseo de la Chopera, 14) as well as the Intermediae space. Intermediae is mainly composed of iron and glass and was opened to the public in February 2007.
The Naves (Units) del Español, a space of 5,900 sq. meters, is the product of an interdisciplinary collaboration between the theatre director Mario Gas, and the stage designer Jean Guy Lecat. Lecat also worked with Peter Brook on the transformation of various locations such as a gas tank, a quarry, an abandoned factory and other unusual spaces. The collaboration also involved the technical stage designer Francisco Fontanals and the municipal architect Emilio Esteras. The restoration, guided by the principles of reversibility, flexibility and versatility, has given the space a diversity of dramatic configurations. It has introduced new elements and materials (polycarbonate as well as a structure of scaffolding), which are combined with the existing materials, and enable a clear reading of these procedures.
The Central de Diseño, which opened in November of 2007, is the result of a project led by José Antonio García Roldán. His action gave importance to maintaining the strength in the constructive decomposition of certain elements. He achieved this aim by incorporating recycled and recyclable materials: removable polycarbonate for the illuminated wall, industrial trays from recycled bumpers for the ground and galvanized iron.
Matadero does not only have singular buildings: the space between the industrial units is equally interesting in what concerns its urban dimension and quality. The enclosure’s urbanization project was developed in collaboration with the wining architects of the Madrid Rio international urbanization competition, Ginés Garrido, Carlos Rubio and Fernando Porras. The project gave birth to the Calle and Plaza Matadero, an open-air space overflowing with activity.
In June of 2011, the Nave 16 opened, designed as a versatile exhibition space of more than four thousand square meters. The space was restored by the architects Alejandro Vírseda, José Ignacio Canicero and Ignacio Vila Almazán. The restoration enabled them to be finalists for the 2012 FAD Architecture Prize.
Also finalists for the same prize, María Langarita and Victor Navarro were in charge of transforming the Nave 15 in what is now the Nave de Música. The latter opened to the public for the first time in October of 2011. The premises of their work were once again centered on reversibility, flexibility and a maximum respect for the original structures. They created a unique space dedicated to music and sound art, combining stages, offices, rehearsal and conference rooms, a radio and a recording studio, a concept with no equal in Madrid.
Once again an impressive project of restoration of great imagination and little cost, the Cineteca opened right before the Nave de Música did, in September 2011. Located between the naves 17 c,d, e and f´s pavilions, it has a total space of 2,688 m2. José María Churtichaga and Cayetana de la Quadra Saldeco’s architectural project has followed the existing constructions’ general conception, notably by conserving the original space’s functionality and charm.
To this new architecture can be added the Casa del Lector, architect Antón García Abril’s second project. With a surface superior to eight thousand square meters, it occupies the space of Naves 13 and 14, the Nave 17b, which connects these two, and a part of the nave 17c.
Lastly, another important construction is the installation of a central which, by means of a subterranean water pipe fitting, provides hot and cold water (for air conditioning), as well as drinking water, protection against fire incidents, electrical energy, land line, sound and information. This system enables significant electrical savings, as well as a significant reduction of maintenance costs, in agreement with the principles of sustainability and economy which guide the project as a whole.