Conceived by Fernando Higueras in 1960, the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute in Madrid, colloquially known as “La Corona de Espinas” (The Crown of Thorns), is celebrated for its distinctive fusion of constructivist, rationalist, and organic architectural principles. Situated in the heart of Spain’s capital, the institute not only serves as a pivotal cultural and educational facility but also as a testament to Higueras’s visionary approach, blending functionality with an expressive aesthetic that reflects the rich cultural heritage it aims to preserve.
The Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute Technical Information
- Architects : Fernando Higueras (1930-2008), Rafael Moneo, Antonio Miró (1931-2011)
- Location: Calle del Greco, 4, Madrid, Spain
- Oficial Name: Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España
- Typology: Cultural Architecture / Heritage Building
- Topics: Constructivist, Organic, Circular
- Project Year: 1960–1990
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– Fernando Higueras1
Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute Photographs
The Evolution of Spain’s Cultural Heritage Institute
The journey of the Cultural Heritage Institute’s headquarters in Spain, a visionary project secured through a competition by architects Fernando Higueras, Antonio Miró, and Rafael Moneo, encapsulates a remarkable narrative of architectural innovation and resilience. Designed to serve as “An Artistic Restoration Center,” the project was ambitiously laid out in a circular design, symbolizing unity and continuity.
Construction began in 1967, embodying a futuristic vision with a layout that originally envisioned a pyramid structure. However, financial constraints halted progress just four months shy of its completion date, leaving the building in a state of unfinished potential for years. This period of dormancy ended in 1990 when the building underwent significant renovation, breathing new life into the architects’ vision. By 2001, this architecture project was rightfully recognized as a Heritage Site of Cultural Interest, sealing its status in Spain’s cultural and historical narrative.
The building’s transformation over the years is a tale of architectural evolution. The final structure diverged from the initial pyramid concept to an innovative circular form characterized by a 40-meter radius, divided into 30 sections and 56 frames, spanning four stories. This design incorporates a spacious central courtyard surrounded by five inner courtyards, each boasting lush interior gardens, blending indoor and outdoor spaces seamlessly.
Presently, the institute is affectionately dubbed the “crown of thorns,” a moniker inspired by its unique circular shape crowned with spiked protrusions. This name reflects not only the physical attributes of the building but also its storied history and the challenges overcome to preserve Spain’s rich cultural legacy.
Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute Plans
Spanish Cultural Institute Building Gallery
About Fernando Higueras
Fernando de Higueras Díaz (1930 – January 30, 2008) was a Spanish architect who graduated from the Technical School of Architecture of Madrid in 1959. Higueras was also a musician, a painter, and a photographer. He died in Madrid, aged 77 years.
Higueras’s architecture demonstrates a constructive adaptation to the natural and physical environment. He understood architecture from popular contemporary approaches. His spectacular but simple structural solutions, such as vaults, have greatly influenced modern Spanish architecture.
- Fernando Higueras. He claimed to be anti-Le Corbusier & anti-Mies