Metropolitan living comes with the advantage of having a wide array of entertainment and cultural options at one’s fingertips. Still, standout locations are rare and finding places with soul and unique personality is hard. However, if you are in Madrid, you’re in luck: Sala Equis is a great example for the inexhaustible trove of great tales that is the Spanish capital.
The artistic and intellectual breath of the historic Madrid can still be sensed within the walls of Sala Equis – a new cultural and multipurpose space of 700 square meters – is based smack in the center of Madrid.
We enter via the terrace, which welcomes visitors and is one of the principal areas for mingling. We now pass through Sala Plaza. The roof-covered atrium consists of a large skylight that floods the room with natural light and evokes the undeniable spirit of lavish cosmopolitan parties. A large projection screen, a bar, and different “living rooms” distributed among wooden benches, sunbeds, and swings, give the room a sophisticated yet playful feel. Visitors can look forward to enjoying a prêt-à-porter selection of food: tapas, salads, and reinterpreted finger food classics influenced by fusion cuisine. The menu is certainly designed to add to the easy-going feel of the cultural programme at Sala Equis.
Adjoined, there is Sala Cine, an incredible space with 55 seats exclusively reserved for film screenings, held in partnership with Sunset Cinema, a company dedicated to cinematic pop-up experiences. Aside from the occasional premiere, the film programme includes subtitled original versions. A permanent cycle of films entitled New Visions of Cinema in Madrid frequently invites local directors like Jonas Trueba or Carlos Vermut to screen and discuss their work.
Sala Equis: cultural hot spot with a story
The place that combines cinema, live music, gastronomy, and activity events, has a unique story to tell. One of most interesting aspects about Sala Equis is its location. It forms part of a historic building that has persisted through time. Most notoriously, it is known for housing a former erotic cinema.
The building itself is a small palace that was home to the editors at local newspaper El Imparcial in the early 1930’s. While the publication felt the impact of the tumultuous events that were shaking Spain in the first third of the twentieth century, the offices closed and made way for Alba cinema, which was built in the building’s courtyard.
After shifting its programmatic focus to more risqué content in the 80’s, Alba notably became the city’s last erotic cinema. The theater has miraculously survived successive demolition attempts, thanks to the efforts of the owning family, who have defended the institution’s cultural value. The space’s potential as a cultural centre was always considered – and even spills out onto the street occasionally: Every Sunday, a concert with the local outfit Hot Jazz Band Madrid takes place at Rastro market, sharing the spirit with the neighborhood.
Preserving the old, creating the new
Sala Equis, which opened late 2017, now reflects the desire to preserve this unique space, referencing its cultural and social importance. The transformation project was carried out by architecture and interior design studio Plantea and the leisure space experts at Payser Big & Small.
Giving new life to a historic building and rescuing a cultural venue for the city of Madrid shows how all is not lost – creativity paired with bold urban design keeps cities alive. Which abandoned buildings spark your ideas?
For more information on Sala Equis, click here.