escuelas Pías de Lavapiés, Madrid

José Ignacio Linazasoro


The intervention in the “Escuelas Pías de Lavapiés” and surroundings include different scales: the urban, the public space, even the design of the interior furniture. It also presents different constructive systems and includes distinct types of relation with the already constructed, from the new plant (delimited by the borders of a parcel) to the intervention.

It is been tried, despite this complexity, that the whole had a unitary character. For this, it has been necessary to establish a principle of unit beyond the particular solutions and which could be described as “nature” of the intervention.

This is also defined, as in a game of mirrors, by the reciprocal references among the different “buildings” and parts of the project, both pre-existing and new.

There is in this sense, a particular expressive incidence of materials and textures.

The dominant presence of the ruin in a strong character district, probably the most marked in the city, reinforced lately by an accumulation of ethnic substrates, make Lavapiés and the Ruins of the Escuelas Pías, a place where complacent “design” solutions do not fit, but is necessary to project, to immerse in the enormous burden of references that History has been reflecting here.


The architectural solution should not be limited to applying preconceived "cliches", but expressing through the primary, timeless and indisputable values, such as material, construction and light, besides considering the emaciated, brutal and imposing character of the place and the ruin.

Lavapiés is the last “ancient” district in Madrid, where life occupies everything, as in the streets of Napoles or in the Souk of Damascus, in which the ruins of the ancient monuments are literally taken advantage, as in the Rome that the Piranesi engravings portray.

This ancient and natural way to relate to the past, contrast with the conventional contrapositions between “ancient architecture” and “modern architecture” in exclusively terms of “style”.

The Ruins of the Escuelas Pías and the void of the San Agustín Lara Square, are also a living testimony of the tragic events of civil war in the city of Madrid, events that left a mark of a tragic and heart-breaking beauty.

All this revealed the resistance of the walls of the ancient church, the result of a “Roman” construction which was hidden behind stuccoes and ornate liturgical furnishings, but which, after the fire in 1936, has withstood the inclemency of time, weather and neglect for more than sixty years.

The unitary character of the project does not contradict the multiplicity of its spaces and constructive systems. However, there is a sequence of internal and external routes which exceed the limits between buildings, through which all spaces are articulated.

These are related to each other by analogy and contrast.

The project tries to establish a dialogue among some elements of modern architecture and the big subject from the past through several citations and allusions, as well as to account for other contributions of modern art, outside the architecture and which surpass the proper linguistic scope but no the conceptual one. This is especially true for the installation furniture of the Library located as an “installation” in the reconstructed space.

Texto: Introducción de José Ignacio Linazasoro en su libro “ Evocando la Ruina. Sombras y texturas. Centro Cultural en Lavapiés, Madrid “


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