La Cebada: Adaptive Reuse

MIT Spring 2020

Instructors: Lorena del Rio & Inãqui Carnicero

The project is situated in Plaza de la Cebada, one of the few urban voids within the dense medieval tissue of Madid. The site has served as an open space of possibility, from markets, to water fountains and even executions for centuries. Today the openness of the plaza is interrupted by the existing building, which consists of a large rectangular volume with six concrete shell domes, that sits within the site, oblivious to the boundaries.

The intervention into the existing building can be understood primarily as a series of strategic demolitions that return the site to the public as an open ground. The formal strategy was to take the unfinished photograph of the market as available material and imagine an alternative way that it could be completed, such that it maintained the original openness of the site. If the existing structure is a single large volume, oblivious to the perimeter of the site, this intervention transforms it into multiple pavilions that break down the scale of the overall building. The project aims to transform the silhouette of the building as a whole into a porous series of pavilions, such that almost the entire ground floor is an open walkable public space.

What is being preserved are the concrete pillars and the domes. A new laminated timber structure is added to support the domes and increase the available square footage, while minimizing it’s footprint on the ground floor. The spaces formerly in between the domes become circulation areas and alleys that connect to the streets. The rhythm of the old pillars becomes the driving principle of the new structural system.