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The Norman Foster Foundation, which officially inaugurated its Madrid headquarters earlier this month, has opened a new courtyard pavilion designed to host events and exhibitions. The venue displays objects and images that have served as personal references for Foster, who is widely regarded as one of the most significant architects of the last 40 years. The flexible space is also able to host talks and discussions, and features a façade that can open to the adjacent courtyard for outdoor events.

The Norman Foster Foundation’s new building is topped with a roof shaped like the wing of an aircraft, a gesture that resolves the site’s irregular geometry. The roof is supported by a hidden steel structure cantilevered over the structural glass façade, resulting in a ceiling that appears to levitate above visitors’ heads. Above the courtyard itself, a canopy created by Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias frames selected views and casts a pattern of dappled light.

The glass panel that leads to the courtyard takes the form of a massive door that weighs 2.7 tons and measures 6 meters in length. Thanks to its prefabricated elements, the pavilion was realized in just six months. From an environmental standpoint the building’s glass envelope boasts high thermal performance, while radiant heating and cooling is transmitted via the floor. The pavilion’s architects are a design studio from the Foundation itself — not from foster’s London-based office — who sought to collaborate with local workers and materials.

The pavilion’s contents comprise a selection of objects, models, photography and sculpture from the worlds of art, architecture and design — with a particular emphasis on aircraft, cars, and locomotives. Taking center stage in the collection is the newly restored, original 1927 avions voisin C7. The car, which was previously owned by Le Corbusier, used aviation technology pioneered by voisin for his flying machines and is being displayed for the first time.

Architect: Norman Foster Foundation
Photography: Guillermo Rodríguez

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