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Restructuring of the surroundings of the Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
Year 2014

    Restructuring of the surroundings of the Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain

    Competition 2014. 1st prize

    The Puerta del Sol is a space that could be classified as discrete, as was all of the architecture of the Isabelline era that defined the better part of the Madrid of the 19th century. Hence, it would not make sense to understand it as monumental, contradicting the criteria from the Madrid of that time. For the same reason it would not be appropriate to introduce a contemporary design to the square, if such design fails to reference the existing architecture.
    Neither we comprehend that to achieve a participative urban space some would pretend to generate a chaotic place filled with objects or lacking references. We understand that this types of visions distort the values of an already stablished architectural space than can and should be enhanced. On the other hand, we feel it would be absolutely demagogic to suggest a “changing” space to, supposedly, better adapt it to different uses, hence eluding any concrete definition of the space.
    We believe that what should be achieved, in the contrary, is a square capable of admitting different uses without substantially changing its design each time, something that has been happening frequently over the past few years with not so great results. With that purpose in sight, the geometry and the basic elements of the square should be set in such a way that they allow maximum flexibility of use. Therefore, our proposal is, in essence, to recover the space, which is now degraded and lacking purpose, without adding anything significantly new that would decrease value and eliminate all of the elements that contribute to the degradation of the space.
    Moreover, considering that the idea is to portray a large urban forum, the project should be clear and simple, without concessions towards designs poorly comprehended and, at the same time, it should be measured and plausible.
    All things considered, our goal is to:
    – recover the square’s architecture product of the 19th century renovation as a space where the emptiness would be the main character without renouncing to introducing new elements essential for its function as a public space, such as living spaces, kiosks and subway accesses, which have become indispensable, although strategically regrouping them. We also suggest unifying the lower commercial spaces in order to recover the original Isabelline architecture.
    – reinforce its representative character in the context of the city and even in the international context. To accomplish this, it is imperative to reorganize and regularize the space’s geometry avoiding any kind of monumentalism and reinforcing its contemporary language.
    – We do not share the perception that the square’s space’s function should be merely ludic, filling it with more or less “à la mode” episodes. Instead, we should consider a variety of uses but not introduce all of those new objects that would again crowd the space and distort it.
    – Our proposal also includes improving the lighting (see perspective) of the buildings’ facades as well as of the square’s center and its monuments, something that we deem fundamental given that the square is used by night in some occasions.
    – We also consider that now is not the time to enter in the urban furniture design stage given that this is a contest of ideas and, for now, the priority is the organization of the space. Anyways, in no case should the furniture have prominence over the space, the goal is that the space itself rules over anything else, and that is why we should introduce as few elements as possible.
    – To dignify the square and make it more accessible to the citizens, we also propose completing its pedestrianization by:
    – suppressing traffic on calle Alcalá, between Puerta del Sol and calle Sevilla.
    – regularizing traffic until it coexists naturally with the pedestrians of the E-W axis, which is the one that traverses the square from calle Mayor to Carrera de San Jerónimo.
    – Ultimately, our goal is to make the square more empty, clear and unitary, a space in which all elements serve the purpose of reinforcing the space’s shape. A space of openly contemporary and flexible character for all kinds of shows.
    Regarding this issue, Kevin Lynch says: “A very friendly city (evident, legible or visible) would seem, in this specific sense, well-shaped, defined, noticeable… a reference of great continuity, with many differentiated parts but clearly linked to one another”.

    Authors: Linazasoro&Sánchez Arquitectura
    Collaborators: Hugo Sebastián de Erice Navarrete, Sergi Artola Dols