Churtichaga+Quadra-Salcedo Arquitectos

Matadero Madrid Art Center
Photo © Fernando Guerra


Behind engaging architecture there is tension. Indeed, Rembrandt's famous high-drama juxtapositions of light and dark were the inspiration for the conversion of a century-old slaughterhouse in southern Madrid into a new cultural center and public film archive. The Matadero Madrid art center, which reopened last year after a two-year, $5 million renovation by the Spanish firm Churtichaga+Quadra-Salcedo, now offers two movie theaters, studio space for filmmakers, a café, and a rich archive of 7,000 documentaries available to both researchers and more casual browsers. A portion of the collection is housed in this cavernous 125-by-16-foot room, which served as the facility's refrigerator in its former life. Clad in dark-gray wood paneling, the archive is illuminated by thousands of feet of LED-infused plastic tubing interwoven in a basketlike form that soars above. A true mise-en-scène, the space draws from the mood and theatrics of film, as well as the powerful rhetoric of its more gruesome history. Against this dramatic backdrop, the Matadero center establishes its own emphatic narrative.