Text description provided by the architects. On February 15 2005, an agreement was signed between the City of Madrid and the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid (COAM) to coordinate a set of actions towards the restoration of the complex of Escuelas Pías de San Antón, that had suffered a fire few years before. It included an architectural competition and the subsequent development of the winning project.
The main goal of such agreement was to impulse the restoration and insertion of a mixed-use program of social interest, one that would revitalize Escuelas Pias' urban context. Such program included the new headquarters for COAM and the COAM Cultural Foundation, a nursery, a day care and senior center, sport facilities and a music school. Extensive underground parking space was also to be built, covering both the needs of the new buildings and nearby residents.
All of this should be done without interfering with the religious services that take place in the church of San Antón, included in the complex, and which is object of a restoration as well. As an indispensable condition, a public-access, green open area is set as core of the complex. The program is regarded as an opportunity to consolidate a very diverse array of activities and interests in a single architectonic response.
The total built area for Escuelas Pías de San Antón is 5878 sqm, of which 628 belong to the baroque church of San Antón, a declared "Building of Cultural Interest" by architect Pedro Ribera that is completely embedded within the complex an constitutes the only part that didn't suffer the progressive ruination that affected the rest of the lot.
The value that the project seeks is to create a serene -yet full of lively contentment- atmosphere. New ledge continuity in the preserved facades is also proposed, as the complex never had it, thanks to a loggia-balcony that dematerializes during the day and transforms into a vibrant lantern at night, hovering over the city,...above a garden. A place of quietude, of serenity, that embraces life,...a place for reunion. A surprise, an "accent" to the city.
A secluded space with an open character. A place where trees are discovered through transparency at street level. A garden in this dense part of the city...an open space that allows to breathe, where life unwinds naturally. Architectural atmospheres with a whisper-like quality to them; honest and clear construction; a doric attitude, an approximation to essence where matter reveals its natural values...the understanding that, "in architecture, honesty is an intellectual position“.
It is predominantly built with just concrete, steel, glass and golden granite. "The shade of a tree" is here regarded as a space of unparalleled value. The true transformation of an urban space is produced both through its buildings as well as its trees. If we are able to pass on a garden with trees in this part of the city as inheritance to our children, we will have built valuable urban heritage.