AHEC: American Red Oak Features in the Spanish House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives in Madrid boasts a new hall, Prim Hall, for forthcoming meetings and events. Prim Hall is located directly above the grand ‘Los Pasos Perdidos’ Hall and is named after General Juan Prim, the president assassinated in 1870, the year of 2014 being the bicentenary of his birth in Reus (Tarragona). The space was opened on July 22nd 2014 by the Speaker of the House, Jesús Posada, and is equipped with the latest technology.
A key objective of the project was to modernise the space, differentiating it from the classical style of the rest of the building. “The two fully glazed side walls provide superb light in the hall. However, glass is unsuitable for acoustics, so I decided to use wood for the ceiling, floor and front and rear walls”, says Ana Jiménez Díaz-Valero, Architect and Curator of the House of Representatives and manager of the renovation project for the new Prim Hall. The interior space of the hall is fitted almost entirely with oak and big windows on either side of the room to allow good natural light. “Wood offers good acoustic performance, allows you to create unique shapes and provides warmth. Therefore, along with light, it became another major feature of the hall”, comments Ana Jiménez. American red oak covers an area of 230 m2 across the ceilings, with solid 15 mm x 45mm slats 30mm apart, supplied and installed by Hunter Douglas España S.A. which continue until halfway down the front and rear walls. European oak was specified for the floors.
The rest of the walls are covered by a flat surface where the grain of the red oak is positioned horizontally to give continuity to the horizontal slats of the ceiling. Access doors are flat and flush with the wall, with which they integrate perfectly becoming virtually invisible, also being made in red oak with the grain positioned horizontally.
The curved shape of the ceiling responds to the need to achieve good acoustics while obtaining the maximum possible height that is pre-determined by the structural trusses supporting the roof. The ceiling of wooden slats allowed Ana Jiménez hide air conditioning units and technology systems so that only the lighting is visible.
“For the project I needed sturdy wood of great aesthetic beauty from sustainable forests. Red oak has suited my aspirations for the project perfectly” comments Ana Jiménez. “I only wanted to use red oak if it came from well-managed forests to be sure that my decisions were not harming the environment. I was happy to use American red oak because of the strong environmental credential of American hardwoods.”
The hall is still furnished by the old classic furniture from the 60’s evoking the necessary coexistence between our past and future. The furniture has been restored and upholstered, consisting of chairs with arms in groups of three. However, the furniture of the presidential table and the stenographers’ table, located on one side, has been newly made following the same pattern as the walls and ceiling of the hall.
The Hall was originally built in the 1960s as an extension to the existing roof and thus is architecturally different from the original building. Ana Jiménez chose to retain the architectural difference of the hall’s exterior and sought to define the space as “perched” on the old building. In a new and original piece of architecture, a mesh covers and contains the extension allowing natural light to enter through the two glass side walls. An external stainless steel lattice with adjustable internal blinds makes it possible to control the light intensity in the hall and provides privacy when required.
This superb renovation project has achieved a light, flexible and functional hall and most importantly, a space that is pleasant to be in.
For more information contact Mrs Belinda Cobden-Ramsay or visit the web site:
AHEC: American Hardwood Export Council
23 Austin Friars
LONDON EC2N 2QP / United Kingdom
Tel +44 20 76264111
Fax +44 20 76264222