This is one of the places that make me happy to live in Madrid. It has the elements you see in many great public buildings here – forward thinking architectural design and an imaginative use of the space. Inspired by the skyscrapers of Manhattan with some added Baroque details and completed in 1929, this was Europe’s first skyscraper and the tallest building too (for about 5 minutes!).
During the Civil War, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry sent their reports from here — this building has some real history! Nowadays, it houses the Telefonica flagship store and a telecommunications museum and (my favourite part) the Espacio Fundación Telefónica, created when part of the building was remodelled in 2012, and now features an incredibly photogenic staircase. There is also an auditorium which has free concerts, and a café.
I have never seen an exhibition here that wasn’t exquisitely curated – currently they are featuring the artist Jennifer Steinkamp, until April 22, in a show called Digital Nature. The huge projections of digitally produced flowers and trees wave, tremble and pass through the seasons in a mesmeric way. Pulsing blackberries and other fruit bounce against the large screen in another piece called “Ovaries”. Catch it while you can!
It’s in what may be the busiest part of central Madrid, on the corner of Gran Vía and Fuencarral streets, but no matter how crazy it is outside, inside I have always found it to be an oasis of calm – it makes a wonderful contrast.