Archipassion, the cathedrals of Joaquín Vaquero Palacios

If you are in Madrid this Holy Week, do not miss the exhibition of the Ico Foundation on Asturian Power Plants by architect Joaquín Vaquero Palacios.


The exhibition we are talking about today is called ‘Joaquín Vaquero Palacios. The beauty of the extraordinary. Asturias, 1954-1980 ’, but in reality, more than the huge thing that makes this exhibition great is the simple thing. How easy it is to do things well when you have passion for what you love. In the case of Vaquero, architecture, which is still a large-scale constructive expression of art.

The ICO Museum’s commitment to remember the architect has been directed to the fabulous Asturian centrals of Salime, Miranda, Proaza, Aboño and Tanes, in which the artist’s hand rested to turn them into true industrial cathedrals. What better date than Easter to discover them in the first person? You know, a golden occasion at your fingertips.

The ICO museum collects the exhibition until May 9

At the head of the exhibition, Don Joaquín Vaquero Ibáñez, grandson of the artist, architect like his grandfather and his father (a whole saga), and main fan. He tells us that he has tried to bring the exhibition to the general public by establishing a very visual tour, so, the path teaches us who the artist is, the environment where he was born, both familiar and geographical, and the location of the plants in the space time.

In total, about 90 photographs of Luis Asín, the audiovisual work of Juan Vaquero, the paintings of Joaquín Vaquero Palacios, photographs of the time, original plans, sketches, models, books and various elements of industrial design, will tell us the history of the creation of power plants, between 1954 and 1980.

He was grandson and son of architects

There you will discover that Vaquero was born in Oviedo in 1900, died in Madrid in 1998 and was an architect, painter and sculptor with a huge creative work. One of its main legacies are these wonderful power plants, which generated industrial spaces of great artistic conceptualization, these were the Salime (1945-1955), Miranda (1956-62), Proaza (1964-68), Aboño (1969- 1980) and Tanes (1980).

In the exhibition you can enjoy the murals, sculptures, furniture and industrial design proposed by Joaquín Vaquero, sometimes helped by his son, Joaquín Vaquero Turcios, also an architect and artist (go saga). The most interesting of his works is that his design allows the fusion of art and industry, something that is not as usual as we would like to think, and that turns these biildings into authentic industrial cathedrals of the twentieth century.

His creativity had no limits

The constructions are born when the architect’s father, Narciso Hernández Vaquero, who was director and president of the Cantabrian Hydroelectric for half a century, was accompanied by a young Joaquin on his travels. He grew steeped in the Asturian landscape and later, when the people in charge of the company commissioned the works of artistic integration of the Grandas de Salime dam, the architect knew how to combine engineering, architecture and painting to create a unique and singular work.

After Salime he undertook the plants (in different years) of Miranda, Proaza, Aboño and Tanes. Do not forget to buy the book that documents the exhibition, a catalog to preserve the fresh sample in our memory published by the ICO Museum for the dissemination of the first level Spanish architecture. The museum has specialized since 2012 in the field of architecture and urban planning, delving into the exciting world of contemporary architecture.

Asturian plants are the axis of the sample

The other organization that has made the exhibition possible is called the EDP Foundation, born from the Hydrocantábrico Foundation in May 1997, with the mission of reinforcing the company’s commitment in the educational, cultural, social, sports and environmental areas within a perspective of global sustainable development, in which the generation and efficient and responsible use of energy plays a decisive role (almost nothing). A great job worth knowing.

If we talk about materials, it is evident that the king of these constructions is concrete, the most important constructive element that allows the artist to play with shapes, carve their volumetry, modify their colors. The central Miranda is a great example of this, but the best example is the majestic central Proaza, a building that many would dare to call Brutalist style, although nothing is further from reality: artistic sensibility folds into each of its edges … outside and inside.


If you want to enjoy the # ArquiPasión in Holy Week, we invite you to enjoy this exhibition that will remain open until May 6 (if you can’t on holy dates), on Zorrilla street number 3, in Madrid, during 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday and from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays and holidays, Mondays close, so don’t even try.

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