We the architects are a singular profession: by morning you can have mud up to your knees in a building site, and on the same afternoon be with the most powerful in sophisticated environments. It is up to us to define the best possible solution, even if sometimes the needed resources are far from being provided. And we can be a useful scapegoat for many people (that as always in life can even have some point in occasions). Sure, all of the above only applies to us…
Architects tend to constitute associative bodies that defend what they perceive as their rights, and these associations have a certain legal status. In Spain these entities are the Architect’s Colleges, and in Madrid we have COAM. The deep economic trouble, mostly linked here in Spain to the real estate bubble (with a direct impact on our business, with a sizeable proportion of Madrid’s architects unemployed) has had a clear impact on the organization.
As often, even for non architect- related entities, COAM decided to move to new headquarters a short time before the bubble exploded, with all the associated costs. The long term impact of this operation on COAM’s finances (which faces regulatory changes that can become a much bigger problem) remains to be seen, but we can at least say that something good has been given to Madrid. The building seems well built and is well integrated with the street, but the main point to me is that it integrates, with a semi-public quality (enhanced by sharing the building with public equipments), a courtyard with an attractive landscaping. Madrid and other Spanish cities have lost over time, among other qualities, that of its courtyards as silent spaces with the presence of orchards and gardens, and here, even if there are no big trees, there are clearly positive elements. The project (by the architect Gonzalo Moure) integrates also other uses, as a public swimming pool with good views.
These new headquarters opened some months ago, but to be honest yesterday night was my first visit, due to the COAM annual awards. The visit was in part purpose driven (our Proyecto Madrid Centro was awarded), but also interesting.
The Headquarters, or La Sede (so named in Spanish in the corporative image) is worth a walk, on 63,calle Hortaleza, with architecture- related exhibitions and cultural activities.