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History and Architecture

Winner of the projects competition to remodel the Hall of Realms

The proposal presented by the team of Foster + Partners L.T.D. and Rubio Arquitectura S.L.P. is the winner of the international competition for the architectural restoration and museological remodelling of the Salón de Reinos [Hall of Realms] of the former Buen Retiro palace.

The winning proposal, entitled HIDDEN DESIGN, makes maximum use of the building’s museological aspect and creates a large entrance atrium on the south façade, making this space semi-open and permeable to the exterior but sufficiently controlled for it to function to protect the original façade of the Hall of Realms, the windows and balconies of which will be reinstated. Emerging over the top of this façade will be a large exhibition space on the third floor, which is higher and wider than the present one, forming the roof of the atrium and a terrazza facing the Museum’s “campus”.

Hidden Design

The vision for the new Prado Campus brings the essence of the Palacio del Buen Retiro back to life, by creating a new public focus for the city and stitching the various buildings of the Museo del Prado together.

The primary protagonist is the noble Hall of Realms, a monument which has gathered many layers of history throughout the centuries. These layers will be peeled back to reveal the original 17th century façade, which will become the primary exhibit of the new museum.

Summary of the proposal for the Hall of Realms

Summary of the proposal for the Hall of Realms.

The recovery of the south façade of the Palace requires the removal of the floor slabs to reveal the full extent of the facades, creating a spectacular new indoor public space: the new Prado Campus. By means of a delicate procedure the original façade openings will be reinstated so that sunlight reaches the interior spaces of the Hall of Realms again, re-establishing its former bond with the surrounding landscape.

The area lost by the removal of the intermediate floors will be reinstated on the third floor, above the newly revealed façade. This new floor will house a broad and versatile exhibition hall with a double-height ceiling.

The new roof will be fully tuneable for controlled natural and artificial light, with full environmental controls – perfectly adapted to the varied nature of the exhibits. The new roof will also set new standards for sustainability, harvesting energy from integrated solar cells, while creating shade on the southern façade.

By situating the gallery spaces above, the ground floor is released and becomes the heart of the new building: this public level will be filled with exhibition and recreational areas, with the surrounding urban milieu flowing through the atrium, reconnecting both north – where the main entrance is located – and south, where a gathering space receives the visitors from the Villanueva building and restores the relationship between the Hall of Realms and the Casón del Buen Retiro.

A holistic vision for the future, the proposal for the Prado Campus will become a vital urban focus: a project that strengthens the urban linkages by stitching together the city, bringing clarity and coherence to the visitor experience. The project expands the role of the museum as a contemporary cultural institution, reaffirming its role as the custodian of the Royal Collections that were formerly housed in the Palacio del Buen Retiro.

Finalist proposals

The Museo del Prado exhibits the eight finalist proposals presented as part of the Tender for the Renovation of the Hall of Realms. The exhibition will be held at the Jerónimos Cloister and will be open until 15th January.

The finalist teams, whose proposals can be viewed at the exhibition, include the following: