A Glass Pavilion
Norman Foster Foundation in Madrid
Madrid, Spain
In a central area of Madrid, the Norman Foster Foundation is housed in a heritage listed residential palace by Joaquín Saldaña. Its courtyard is the setting for a new pavilion which will show a changing display of objects and images that have, over the years, been personal references for Foster.

The new building resolves the irregular geometry of the outdoor area with a roof shaped like the wing of an aircraft. This is supported by a hidden steel structure cantilevered over a structural glass facade without any visible means of support so the roof seems to float over it. The result is an architecture which seeks the ephemeral qualities of light, lightness and reflections. Elements are reduced to an essential minimum with a mirrored ceiling and fascia which further dissolves the volume of space to emphasize its contents. The courtyard and entrance facade of the pavilion is shaded by a canopy created by the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias. This work, The Ionosphere (A Place of Silent Storms), is composed of interlocking light carbon fiber panels with patterns generated from a text of Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise. It frames the view of the court from the pavilion as well as bathing it in dappled shade. From its innovative but subtle use of glass, steel and composite materials, the pavilion is a further exploration of techniques that Norman Foster has pioneered over more than five decades. The wide glass panel to the courtyard next to the entrance is itself a massive door, weighing 2.7 tons and 6 meters long. When this portal is opened up the interior and exterior worlds are united into one flowing space for Foundation gatherings. By working closely with the craftsmen in metal and glass it has been possible to develop a combination of slim bead-blasted stainless steel sections welded together and with mirror polished edges which dematerialize the bulk of supporting structures. The contents of the pavilion are an eclectic selection of objects, models, photography and sculpture from the worlds of art, architecture and design, embracing aircraft, cars and locomotives. For Norman Foster these are not separate worlds but interconnected with a special emphasis on his passion for flight. An important and historic car is displayed for the first time. This is not a replica – it is the newly restored and original 1927 Avions Voisin C7 that was owned by Le Corbusier and featured in photographs of all his early works. The car was very advanced in its time using aviation technology pioneered by Voisin for his flying machines. Because of its large expanse of glass, echoed in the new architecture of its age, it was called the Lumineuse. Gabriel Voisin was also a patron of Le Corbusier who named his radical proposal for Paris The Voisin Plan. The pavilion was realized through detail design and construction in six months. This was made possible by prefabricating all the elements which also avoided excavation on the site and disruption to neighbors. The high thermal performance of the glass building envelope, radiant heating and cooling through the floor, generous external shading and the latest generation of LED lighting are all part of its sustainable agenda. Local skills and materials have been important – for example eleven of the twelve consultants are from Spain and six of the nine contractors and suppliers are Spanish – the remainder from Italy, Germany, and Japan.

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© Guillermo Rodríguez
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© Luis Asín

ArquitectoArchitect
Departamento de Arquitectura, Diseño y Tecnología de la Norman Foster Foundation Design studio of the Norman Foster Foundation – Norman Foster

David Delgado, Raúl Gómez y Jorge López Conde

Arquitecto localLocal Architect
Miguel Kreisler, Ángel Jaramillo  – BAUproyectos SLP – España
Ingeniero de estructurasStructural engineer
Juan de la Torre – Euteca Proyectos y Estructuras SLP – España
Ingeniero instalacionesMEP engineer
Rafael Úrculo – R. Úrculo Ingenieros Consultores SA – España
Arquitecto técnicoQuantity surveyor
Javier Martín – Arquitec SL España

Asesor técnico fachadaFaçade consultant
James O’Callaghan – Eckersley O’Callaghan Ltd – Reino Unido
Asesor técnico envolventesEnvelope consultant
ENAR Envolventes Arquitectónicas SL – España
Asesor técnico iluminaciónLighting consultant
Javier Martín – Años Luz Iluminación de Vanguardia SL – España

ConstructoraBuilder
Empty SL y BAUobras SL – España
Contratista de la estructuraStructure contractor
Betazul SA – España
Ingeniería de la fachadaFacade engineering & manufacture
Frener & Reifer Srl – Italia
Fabricante paneles de vidrioGlass manufacturer
Sedak GmbH & Co. KG – Alemania
CubiertaRoofing
Carbures Defense SA – España
Alero de cubiertaRoof Nosing
Realize Srl – Italia
Techo de acero inoxidableStainless steel ceiling
Kikukawa Kogyo Co Ltd – Japón
Mármol tecnológicoTechnological marble
COMPAC The Surfaces Company – España
VitrinaGlass vitrine
Crisel Glass SL, Nerpaser SL – España
Jefe de obraSite surveyor
Enrique Cuartero – Sumarsan SL – España
TopógrafoTopography surveyor
Pedro Magaña – Asistencia y Recursos Topográficos SL – España

Escultura de Cristina IglesiasCristina Iglesias’ sculpture
Ingeniería
Engineering Consultant
Hugo Corres – Fhecor Ingenieros Consultores SA – España
Asesor de ingeniería eólicaWind Engineering Consultant
Oritia & Boreas SL – España
Paneles de la escultura fabricados por Acciona SA – España y Cristina Iglesias Estudio – España

Sculpture panels manufactured by Acciona SA – Spain and Cristina Iglesias Studio – Spain
Cables y nodos de la escultura fabricados por Aciarium SL – España
Sculpture cables and nodes manufactured by Aciarium SL – Spain

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