The Rising Sun
The purpose of this project is to define the strategy for intervention to organise the public space in the area of SOL on the basis of several criteria with the intention to propose potential future changes in the square, providing SOL with a unitary solution with a view towards the future.
There was a time when the morning’s earliest sun entered Madrid through the Eastern gateway opened along the walls which enclosed the medieval city. Through this Puerta del Sol, or Sun Gate, the energy that got the capital’s intense life going reached the city every day.
After the city grew, this entrance’s location shifted to a more central position and it also became more dynamic. This occurred despite the fact that it was a not a highly formalised urban space. It had actually sprung up from a nearly haphazard juxtaposition of streets leading into the plaza. However, the lack of an appropriate layout did not keep it from become the forum from which Madrid’s heartbeat was stimulated.
The attempt was made to provide a formal framework to this nerve centre in Madrid, and the space was remodelled. This re-organisation and expansion of the plaza was linked to the adjacent streets, creating an ensemble which could be seen as an analogy to the image of our closest star and its solar rays. With this new face, the Puerta del Sol definitively took on the status of the city’s Centre, with a capital “C”, and became the place for collective expression from which not only the capital itself was enlightened, but also the country as whole.
The Puerta del Sol has certainly evolved. Some of its buildings have changed, while others’ uses have been transformed. There have also been openings, closings and re-openings of cafés, restaurants and shops, and the internal mobility structure has been modified on several occasions. All of it has changed while also remaining the same, because each “new” Puerta del Sol integrates those which came before, without diminishing the square’s meaning and societal representativeness one bit.
It is in the Puerta del Sol that people usher in the New Year and celebrate events. This is where the first line of Madrid’s Metro started running from. Many people have come together in the square to propose changes to the system, and it is the place from which messages for regeneration have been sent out to the country and the world. Millions of visitors pass through here and hope to get a sense of its symbolic ambience and the “feeling” of Madrid. In the Puerta del Sol, you can almost breathe in the memories and the hopes.
At the present time, the Puerta del Sol is awaiting the reflections which can adapt it to new times. The square will be changing again, but it will hold onto that timeless character which allows it to remain a meeting place for all people and the symbolic heart of the country.