Centro Canalejas

A new emblem for Madrid

From the Habsburger period through to present day, Madrid is proud of its architectural heritage. Hence why it is a dream come true for the Centro Canalejas Madrid to return its historic building to the majesty of days gone by.

A project that is writing history

The Centro Canalejas Madrid is now a landmark feature in the restored heart of 21st- century Madrid. It is a one-of-a-kind project that brings together seven historic buildings, each with their own style, to create a magnificent complex that will become an emblem for cutting-edge leisure and tourist facilities. To achieve this dream, Grupo Villar Mir, OHL Desarrollos and Mohari are in charge of a sophisticated architectural and engineering project, the complexity of which requires certain processes to be turned on their head and innovative solutions to be developed.

A challenging building project: changing the centre of a city

Restoring a historic building is always a challenge. Saving seven of them at once is a dream that Grupo Villar Mir, OHL Desarrollos and Mohari hope to achieve with the Centro Canalejas Madrid: an ambitious property development project that involves restoration and construction and the recovery of lots of precious architectural and ornamental elements so that they can be integrated into the new complex.

From a construction point of view, it is one of the most difficult building projects ever to be implemented in Spain. Thanks to its sophisticated construction solutions, the project is certain to become an international reference point.”

The project is extremely complicated. The first problem is its location: because it is in the centre of a major city, the project requires greater planning, agility and restructuring of the space in order to minimise effects on the surrounding area.

However, the main issue is the need to preserve seven facades and the main gallery in two buildings in accordance with legislation governing the protection of historic buildings. The property developers have met all of these requirements by using a unique system to stabilise and support the facades on a temporary structure and foundations. To ensure the stability of the complex, an automated topographical control system monitors the oscillation of the facades around the clock.

Once the facades had been stabilised, the old internal structure was demolished in order to make space for the new building using a bottom-up and top-down approach, moving the underground area to temporary supports until the maximum cut for building the final foundations had been reached. This approach made the job more difficult; however, it was not only successful in overcoming the technical restrictions caused by the location and the underground infrastructural elements (underground railway tunnel and car park in Calle Sevilla), it also minimised the construction time and enabled other jobs on the upper floors to be started earlier.

“This is a one-of-a-kind project in Europe. Madrid has not experienced an architectural proposition as ambitious as this for a number of decades: bringing a new common identity to seven historic buildings that had been left unused for over ten years.” Carlos Lamela (architect)

The challenge lay in forcing uniformity in a way that had never been planned before onto the chaotic, untidy complex of buildings: a status that had been reached as a result of continuous renovation work. To achieve this, the developers had to work according to two criteria: maintaining the complex’s exterior design and integrating the hotel, residential units, commercial space and parks into a project with horizontal use. A project that would re-establish the spaces and their communication channels and facilities.

Finding the necessary balance between traditional and modern design was a huge challenge, in terms of both the facades and the interior. In the case of the latter, a decision was made to define a symmetrical axis in Alcalá 14 to create a classical, geometric division that was in keeping with the buildings. Furthermore, some incredibly unique spaces were preserved, such as the old banking hall at Banco Español de Crédito, which will become the lobby to the Four Seasons Hotel, and the room that for a long time served as the reading hall at the Casino de Madrid, which will be converted into one of the hotel’s main rooms.

Source: http://www.proyectocanalejas.com/en/index.html

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