Centenario Fisac

Instituto de Formacion de Profesorado de Enseñanza Media y Profesional

Date: 1953-1955
Address: Av. de Puerta de Hierro, s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid View on Maps
Condition: Complete with alterations
Other: At present Escuela Universitaria de Estadística, tel. 91 39440 04 /44 /46

This educational centre was originally intended for furthering the knowledge of, and comparing experiences for secondary education and professional teachers who were extending their training through short-term courses that lasted two-weeks. The location of the plot, next to the Carretera de La Coruña, –already a tree-lined motorway at the time, and in a dominant position over the valley of the river Manzanares and the Casa de Campo, was used by Miguel Fisac to create a horizontal and extensive architecture with very generous free spaces that would facilitate the relationships between teachers and create an optimistic and relaxing atmosphere. The initial project was bigger, but it was synthesized into a proposal finally built between 1953 and 1955, with the intention that it would work as architecture that could be added to in the same way as the Nasrid palaces generated by a process of accumulations and changes. The admiration this author had for the Alhambra has been declared throughout his life in writings and conferences as well as in his own work, and it is explicitly recognisable in this moderate educational acropolis with its built pieces arranged with quite a lot of freedom around courtyards with gardens and fountains. The Japanese house, which Fisac discovered during the extension of his trip to Manila in 1953, –sent by the Dominican Fathers to give some conferences on religious architecture, also meant his first contact with the principles of building sincerity and spatial essentiality that had so influenced the modern architects of the first third of the 20th century. The near east of the Hispano-Arabs and the far Empire of the Rising Sun were cited by Fisac to explain the intentions that generated these buildings, which on the other hand were based on the analytical method in relation to uses that he had already employed at the Instituto Laboral in Daimiel to the point that the program is carefully divided into autonomous and differentiated pieces: an access pavilion with administration services, another for theoretical and practical teaching, another with two studied chambers for pedagogic experimentation, and so on. The connection between them is done with extraordinary light concrete porticoes, which with their undulating silhouette contrast to the neat volumes of brick, concrete and glass. There is nothing rural in this work that is so urban and so related to the Ciudad Universitaria de Madrid. The cornices and tiled roofs used in other projects of the time would not make sense here, but the glass surfaces that give light and allow close views of the gardens or the solid and tense walls which are broken, -as happens on the north side, to make an impressive balcony projecting towards the Sierra de Guadarrama, do make sense. Above all, the porticoed gallery, which limits but filters the spaces with a musical rhythm which arbitrates the whole compound, gained an important leading role. In the same way that a projecting balcony presided the north facade of the Instituto de Microbiología, done two years previously, the portico design had already been used at the school of the Dominican Fathers in Valladolid, with its four-lobule plan pillar which becomes thinner in an incredible way at the base while it expands like a fluid capital at the top to merge with a concrete sheet which is 3 cm thick on the edge and 8 cm in its middle section. These porticoes are in turn the origin of Fisac’s architecture in the following decade, as they start from the same idea of manifesting the fluid original nature that concrete has, capable of adapting to a mould and forming a stony and continuous material with almost no geometric limitations, and although for its execution he used rigid formwork with plaster and ropes and supported on wooden falsework, the possibility of using flexible formwork is already intuited as another step in the expressivity of the material. The fact that in those years Fisac was occupied on multiple projects, sometimes with coinciding programmes and situations, made it possible for him to develop his work as a continuous project in which the research and results of some works serve as a field of experimentation to be applied in the following projects. So it is not strange that there were crossovers between them, without undermining the attention given to the differences in the contexts and programmes which was always present in his work. The design of the initial project, which should have been closed towards the west and had a slender tower for books, –to give the vertical counterpoint, was never completed. At present the use of this compound has changed and it has lost its original sense, at the same time that its relation with the river landscape has been interrupted because of the presence of another taller building but it is preserved in its essence and still displays in its winding porticoes without gravity which seem to swell in the wind and its multiple spatial and constructive aspects, the inventiveness and mastery of its author.


© Noemí Gª Millán, Mike Lumber

© Fundación Fisac


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