Caixa Forum Madrid and the last vertical garden of Patrick Blanc

Caixa Forum Madrid and the last vertical garden of Patrick Blanc

text and photos by Juan Antonio Garcia, PR Fondation "La Caixa" Маdrid
On 13 February in Marid has been created the new Social and Cultural Centre of “la Caixa” Social and Cultural Outreach Projects. Created as a platform in accordance with the concerns and needs of today’s society: a living centre that has opened its doors on the Paseo del Prado to place itself at the service of citizens.
Exhibitions of ancient, modern and contemporary art, music and poetry festivals, multimedia art, debates on contemporary issues, social seminars, educational and family-oriented workshops... these are just some of CaixaForum Madrid’s activities.
The old Central Eléctrica del Mediodía, designed in 1899 by architect Jesús Carrasco-Muñoz Encina and engineer José María Hernández, was not only in ruins but was also hemmed in within the densely developed city, detached from the Salón del Prado and with a total capacity of just 2,000 m2. The architectural redesign has increased this capacity five-fold to 10,000 m2 and has put the building back on Madrid’s map. This has been possible by incorporating into the new centre the space that was previously occupied by a petrol station at number 36 Paseo del Prado (which blocked any view of the building), now transformed into a new public square for citizens in the heart of their city. The brick facade of the old power plant has also been restored using traditional materials and techniques, regaining its original appearance, and extra volume has been added both above and below the building. The hitherto forgotten power plant now stands proud at number 36 Paseo del Prado, transformed into the CaixaForum Madrid, a centre combining tradition and modernity with a wide range of free activities for people of all ages and interests.
Unique accent in the exterior of CaixaForum Madrid is the Vertical garden, build from Patrick Blanc.
The vertical garden of the CaixaForum Madrid is not only the first to be installed in Spain but also the largest implemented to date on a facade without gaps, as it has a planted surface area of 460 m2. The result is a surprising, multicoloured ‘living painting’ that, in addition to being visually attractive, also acts as an effective environmental agent. The vertical garden forms an impressive natural tapestry made up of 15,000 plants of 250 different species that have transformed one of the buildings adjoining the developed area of the CaixaForum Madrid into a surprising garden. The wall covers the entirety of the adjoining building at the edge of the new public square that provides access, from Paseo del Prado, to the CaixaForum Madrid at its northern end; in other words, the wall next to number 34 Paseo del Prado.
Plants don’t need earth: only water, minerals, light and carbon dioxide”. Based on this simple axiom, Patrick Blanc built his first vertical garden in 1988, specifically in La Villette in Paris. Today his invention can be seen in cities all over the world: Paris, Brussels, New York, Osaka, Bangkok, New Delhi and Genoa, to name just a few.
Patrick Blanc was born on June 3-th, 1953, in Paris. He studied at Pierre and Marie Curie University. Then he has been a researcher with the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. Today Patrick Blanc own a lot of prizes: French Science Society award winner, Innovation Contest award winner etc.

magazin: EXTERIOR

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