Palacio de Buenavista Bicentennial

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The Palacio de Buenavista is an XVIII century palace in the hart of one of Madrid’s busiest districts. The building stands on a soft mound overlooking beautifully landscaped gardens where thirty-meter tall ginkgos, chestnuts and cedars stand solemn guard, cloaking the hustle and bustle of the city just beyond.

The palace has an impressive history. In 1561, when King Philip II of Spain decided to make Madrid the capital of the Spanish Empire, Cardinal Quiroga gave it to the monarch as a gift. Since then and for more than two centuries Buenavista became one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate in the spanish capital, housing various noble families, generals and clergymen until the year 1777, when María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva-Álvarez de Toledo y Silva, a.k.a. 13th Duchess of Alba, put an end to all the nonsense, tore the bloody thing down and commissioned the construction of the sumptuous palace we know today.

Palacio de Buenavista - June 2016, Madrid.

Well, sort of…

The ambitious palace took a while to build. Also, it burnt… twice. First in 1795 and then again in 1796. So Cayetana never really saw it finished, but she did get to hang plenty of Goyas, Velazquez, and Raphaels from the gold plated walls. So, in 1810, King Joseph Bonaparte designated to become an art museum. Shortly after, he proceeded to leave Spain in a rush.

But except for all the art inside, Buenavista was not deemed suitable to be a museum and in 1816 it became what it is today: Cuartel General del Ejército de Tierra (Spanish Ground Army Headquarters).

The Palace is cited by many as the most important stage in which modern spanish military history was written.

Mapping the history of a building

Two hundred years later and we are in 2016. Ibercover Studio is invited by the Ejercito de Tierra to produce a 3D videomapping piece to close bicentennial celebration gala.

The result is a vertiginous and dramatic trip through the history of the palace, the reforms it underwent, the catastrophes it endured and the people that lived and died in it: Manuel Azaña, The Duchess of Alba and the French Army all blown up onto the giant facade as the Buenavista came to life once again and plunged down memory lane.

The element of surprise

We always think long and hard about theatrics when we put on a show. As production comes to an end, we try to take a step back and consider the timeline for the whole event. At this point we are able to visualize the exact moment at which to hit the play button. An interesting problem we needed to solve for this one was precisely that: timing.

In most events people is actually anxious for the show to begin, they are counting on being amazed momentarily. But this one played somewhat differently in our minds. The audience had just endured a very formal commemoration ritual. Speeches were made, awards given and gratitude expressed. How could we ease this illustrious and yet tired audience into such a visually intense experience after such martial ceremonies?

The solution was not to. Instead we simply waited, we waited as wise commanders probably do. Let them stretch their legs after the long ceremony, have a cocktail or two, chit-chat, relax and mingle.

And only then, when everyone thought the night was over and begun rounding up conversations and making promises to call each other soon… we killed the lights and fired the projectors.

Unconditional surrender.

Palacio de Buenavista on fire by Ibercover Studio - June 2016, Madrid.



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