A Box for the Senses

Christoph Tempel

A Box for the Senses

  • Autor: Christoph Tempel
  • Fotos: Klaus Mellenthin

Madrid, Calle de Montalbán 11: in the Spanish capital, a more exclusive downtown location is inconceivable. Flanking it on one side is Buen Retiro Park, ideal for strolling and recreation. On the other is the splendid boulevard Paseo del Prado, with its world-famous royal art collection, an incomparable source of intellectual edification. Project developer and architect Carlos González Weil tells us about an undertaking characterized by superlatives, and about his desire to connect art with architecture.

The historic, seven-story building, with its imposing façade, is located in the art quarter of Los Jerónimos.

González Weil, you have transformed Calle de Montalbán 11, a typical Madrid building from the 1920s, into a top-class property for the 21st-century: exactly where is it located? The district of Los Jerónimos, where Montalbán 11 is located, is Madrid’s most exclusive neighborhood. Thanks to its historic architecture, it’s an exceptionally upscale residential area, and is home to the most important art galleries and museums in the Spanish capital. The Calle de Montalbán itself begins at Retiro Park, the largest urban oasis in Madrid, and leads into the Paseo del Prado. The location is ideal: a zone of quiet and calm situated at the very heart of the city.

Who lives in Montalbán 11?
The new apartments measure between 200 and 600 m², and were acquired by a variety of purchasers: some occupants are local, and use their unit as a primary residence, others are international, and have chosen Madrid as a second home. All of them share an interest in the connection between art and architecture.

The building stands under landmarks protection. Did this circumstance interfere with your aggressive interventions into the architectural substance? Which parts of the building had to remain unaltered?

In Montalbán 11, the central interior courtyard, the façade, and the main staircase are under landmark protection. Through a complex procedure, our architectural office MOLIOR moved the staircase, reconstructing it using the same surfaces in order to preserve its essence. Its relocation to the central part of the building allowed us to create two units per story on the standard floors. The other protected elements were restored and preserved in their original configurations.

The elevator represents the first and only intervention into this type of property by the artist Carlos Cruz-Diez.
Montalbán 11 offers residential units with two, three, or four parking spaces.

How did you approach the planning process for such an unusual project?
Our multidisciplinary team has had extensive experience developing complex residential projects of various kinds. The key lies in conceiving the building as a whole: with a solid architectural concept as a point of departure, one that generates value and makes it possible to visualize a clear basis for real estate investment, and continuing all the way to the final, richly detailed realization. Montalbán 11 was intended as a landmark for the neighborhood. The integration of art and architecture is something we have consistently aspired to in our projects.

When, during the design process, did the idea of a “sensorial box” consisting of color and light emerge?
For a long time, we wanted to do something that would recall the spirit of the Bauhaus in the early 20th century. Decisive for us was the context of Montalbán 11, found in Madrid’s art district, and in the vicinity of the National Museum of Decorative Arts, the Prado, and the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum. For us, it was the right project because it allowed us to assume a pioneering role when it comes to connecting art and architecture in the city.

How did your collaboration with the artist Carlos Cruz-Diez come about?

Having decided that color would be the guiding principle of vertical and horizontal movement within the building, it wasn’t easy to find an artist who would complement the project. Carlos Cruz-Diez, who has meanwhile died, unfortunately, seemed perfect because as a kinetic artist, his focus was on an appreciationof color as an experience. I’m enthusiastic about his work for the elevator in particular.

Your project received a “very good” certification from BREEAM. Is this necessarily the gold standard for building today? And how did you achieve it?

It’s not easy to receive such a high certification for the general refurbishment of a protected landmark. Since many of the BREEAM aspects had to be implemented already during the project phase, it was a priority for us from the very start. The sourcing of materials, passive and active energy measures, as well as the creation of green oases in the small interior courtyard resulted in us receiving a rating of “very good” for Montalbán 11. This continues to represent a considerable added value for the property.

You have opted for a WÖHR parking system. How are parking requirements for property such as Montalbán 11 assessed?

Montalbán 11 is a luxury object, so parking spaces are a given. Implementation was not simple. In order to build above and below ground simultaneously, it became necessary to reinforce the existing structure on the ground floor. Also, the depth of the excavation was limited by urban planning requirements. Moreover, we could not build beyond the property boundaries. For these reasons, we decided to use a WÖHR system. We performed a joint feasibility analysis and optimized the number of parking units. Ultimately, we arrived at the number 32, with parking spaces allocated in relation to the sizes of the units.

Product Information
WÖHR Multiparker 740
Fully automatic high rack storage; 2 parking levels, each with 4 parking rows; altogether 32 parking spaces; 360° rotation mechanism for convenient storage and retrieval; the parking process lasts ca. 170 seconds; operation via RFID chip; equipped with E-charging station; maximum vehicle length. 5–25 m; vehicle weight 2.5 t


Molior provides a well-established framework for comprehensive project management and property acquisition in the most attractive areas of Madrid. The office specializes in the comprehensive refurbishment for residential purposes of buildings enjoying historical or architectural protection, as well as in the design of luxury singlefamily homes. In recent years, Molior has also carried out largescale residential architecture projects for rental operations, implementing product development from start to finish, from initial conceptualization to the management of the completed building including all related services.

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