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Centro de Arte Reina Sophia, Madrid – Ian Ritchie Architects – Glass Circulation Tower Space

After researching some glass circulation towers, this is one of the finest examples in the world of contemporary design added to an older building, the Centro de Arte Reina Sophia, Madrid where the beautiful modern glass circulation towers / transition spaces were designed by Ian Ritchie Architects.

Centro de Arte Reina Sophia, Madrid – Ian Ritchie Architects

(Image property of Centro de Arte Reina Sophia)

In 1989, Ian Ritchie Architects were invited to contribute their architectural and glass design engineering skills to create the new Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art (Centro Arte Reina Sofia – CARS) being undertaken by Madrid’s Ministry of Culture with the architects Castro and Onzono. The specific architectural elements that were designed for the project were the three 35m high glass vertical circulation towers that were added to the historic building, using an established and well tested system of glass fixing combined with an innovative method of glass suspension. It was also the world’s first glass installation which transferred wind load at the corner of the building through the edges of the glass. This provided the vertical circulation throughout the building and additionally added a contemporary element to the facade of the building.

“The inspiration behind the design’s composition of flat surfaces and planes was Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, and was driven by three guiding principles:

Minimalism – The reduction of each component to a very simple form, and the juxtaposition of these elements to create a rich and legible composition.”
Modernity – The visible expression of current and forward-looking attitudes to design and technology.”
Performance – Ensuring effective movement for thousands of visitors daily, while achieving a degree of transparency that reduced visual impact from outside and allowed uninterrupted views from inside.”

“We felt that the towers should have a didactic role, and chose to hang the glass from the outside and resist horizontal wind loads from within, allowing the public to ‘read’ the design and the forces at play, and give visitors the opportunity to touch key elements of the architecture.”

(Ian Ritchie Architects)

To accommodate the demands of an urgent programme, the design throughout the architecture and the space used simple components designed to allow easy monitoring of quality and rapid manufacture in the quantities required for the construction of the circulation towers.

More Information…

For more information on this project, please visit the links below:

The Relationship to my Project…

The circulation space / transition hub that I am designing for my project is similar to the idea of the Centro de Arte Reina Sophia, as it the purpose of the glass construction and the space is designed ultimately to provide vertical circulation throughout the building into the different floors and spaces. The Centro de Arte Reina Sophia is the best example that I could find that relates to my design.

For my design, I do not want the building to look too heavy by using a thick steel construction against the glass which would change the interior and exterior aesthetic of the building. I would like it to look like the glass on the Centro de Arte Reina Sophia circulation towers. Therefore, the construction of this glass structure will require support from a steel frame, however, the glazed facade of the building could be made to appear almost seamless using frame-less glass. The seamless effect is achieved by using structural glass fins and is supported in each of the corners by the adjacent glass panels. These glass panels are attached to the fins using very small steel brackets to secure them.

I am going to look more into methods of glass wall construction and discuss it in a bit more detail. I am also planning to add some anodised pleated aluminium fins to the facade to allow a lot of natural light to enter the space without over heating. Details on the anodised pleated aluminium fins can be viewed in some of my other posts.

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