Matadero Madrid occupies part of the splendid complex of pavilions designed by Luis Bellido at the beginning of the 20th century: 48 buildings and 165,415 m2 of land that served as the city of Madrid’s industrial slaughterhouse and livestock market until 1995. Along with Madrid Río, this centre for contemporary artistic creation and its promotion houses a number of examples of what has become known as “Nueva Arquitectura Madrileña”, or New Madrilenian Architecture.
In 2005, when permission was granted to give the complex a cultural use, under the direction of the Arts Department of the Madrid City Council, work began on new projects whose fundamental premise was to preserve the architectural exterior of the different buildings referred to as Naves. Without in any way conflicting with that premise, the centre became an architectural testing ground and, to allow the buildings to be returned to their original state, the reversibility of the work was one of its guiding principles.
The interventions specifically retained traces of the past to reinforce the experimental nature of the new institutions that were to be housed there. To this end, a balance was sought between maximum respect for the heritage site and, through the limited use of directly industrial materials, specific amenities that would differentiate it and at the same time serve the various purposes of the Centre for Contemporary Creation. Judging by the results and the recognition and interest it has aroused beyond our borders, the decision seems to have been a wise one.
In 2013, architects Langarita and Navarro received the Emerging Architect Special Mention from the Mies van der Rohe Awards, quite possibly Europe’s most prestigious awards, for their design of Nave 15, which used to be known as the Nave de la Música. It is currently being refurbished to house the Centre's artistic residencies. In 2013, the Cineteca Film Archive, by Churtichaga-Quadra Salcedo, received the Award of the Spanish Biennial of Architecture in the section of reconversion and reuse of buildings. In 2018, the rehabilitation of Nave 17C-Intermediae by Arturo Franco Díaz and Fabrice Van Teslaar received the COAM +10 award, for buildings that remain emblematic after ten years. In 2012, two of the interventions -Nave 15 and Nave 16- were finalists of the FAD Architecture Awards.
After the visit by the jury of the FAD to Matadero Madrid, it was decided to collectively recognise the work of all the architects who had participated in the renovation process.
The decision values “both the overall attitude of the project, which is courageously committed to experimentation and respect for spaces of freedom managed by civil society, and the conceptualisation of the project, from its beginning in 2007 with the rehabilitation of the entrance and the Intermediae space, to the recent work on Nave 16 and Nave 15, finalists in the current edition of the FAD Awards”.
The jury also highlighted Matadero Madrid’s “collective intelligence, the unity inferred from the existing industrial architecture, and the fact that, whilst the new interventions had made a minimal impact on the outside, on the inside they have resolved the diverse needs of the centre’s extensive programme with rigour and authenticity, seeking not only to maintain the architectural spaces and the structural forms, but also the character, atmosphere and, above all, the inimitable passage of time.”
Also in 2012, the Official College of Architects of Madrid awarded one of their COAM prizes to Cineteca (Film Archive) and Archivo Documenta (Documentary Archive), and to Nave 16, all at Matadero Madrid. Finally, worthy of note is the interconnection between Matadero Madrid and Madrid Río through the urban planning of public spaces – Calle Matadero and Plaza Matadero- by the same team of architects -Ginés Garrido, Carlos Rubio and Fernando Porras- that designed Madrid Río.
Madrid Río has received, among other awards, the International Architecture Award 2012 from the Chicago Athenaeum of Architecture and Design together with the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, the Urban Design and Landscaping Award granted by the International Committee of Architectural Critics (CICA), as part of the 13th Buenos Aires Biennial, and the 2012 FAD City and Landscape Award, among many others.