The new building

In the words of Emilio Tuñón, a museum is "an archive of cultural, social and thought-related materials that citizens can access and recognize. The beauty of museums is the close relationship they have with life, in a very broad sense."

The building designed by Emilio Tuñón is aimed at blurring boundaries: It occupies the imaginary line that separates the historical district of Cáceres, World Heritage Site, from the most modern part of the city, creating a flow between past and present. As a central part of the project, a public walkway redistributes the area urbanistically and extends public space.

In words of the architects: “the project intends to listen to the place, and imagine the possibilities, without renouncing our present time, and preserving the way in which the city breathes”. White concrete pillars, oak, angled shapes and the harnessing of natural light denote the trademarks of the architecture studio which has also designed nearby Atrio Restaurant, the MUSAC in León or the Museo de Colecciones Reales.

The new building not only increases the amount of exhibition space at the Museum in order to house the Helga de Alvear Collection, which was limited to what was available at the Casa Grande; instead, it also allows a functional reordering of services including the administrative area, temporary exhibition halls, library and educational services. Both buildings are now connected by means of a hallway on the last floor, where the auditorium is located.

The extension of the Helga de Alvear Museum is present in the lists of the best architectural projects according to The Guardian, Lonely Planet magazine and specialized media such as ArchDaily or Design Boom.

Urban Planning Purposes:

  • Incorporate an architectural element to develop activities and contribute to the revitalization of the historic city center.
  • Add an architectural model in order to strengthen internal permeability of the block.
  • Recover most of the gardens of the building for public use.
  • Set up a building linked to la Casa Grande, in order to give it the same Historic Interest designation.
  • Add nº10 building of Calle Pizarro to la Casa Grande, in order to make the access between this street and Camino Llano easier.
  • Improve urban accessibility to Camino Llano.
  • Recover Camino Llano retaining wall made of stone, and finish the party wall between the neighboring residential building and this wall.

Architectural Purposes: 

  • Create an effective and versatile cultural attraction, with a balanced and recognizable image.
  • Build a clear construction, from the formal and constructive perspectives, setting up a close communication with la Casa Grande.
  • Cluster the exhibition halls of Helga de Alvear Foundation through a functional, organized and flexible structure, organized in four levels
  • Enhance the façade and the interior of the building.
  • Open a covered corridor to the center of the block, by changing the existing architectural characteristics of the historic city center.
  • Rearrange la Casa Grande to accommodate Helga de Alvear Foundation offices, temporary exhibition halls, library and workshops.

The building known as ‘Casa Grande’

A restored modernist building is the place where the Helga de Alvear Museum offers temporary exhibitions. The project for the rehabilitation of the Casa Grande turned this mansion into what used to be the Visual Arts Center of the Helga de Alvear Foundation.

The building know as “Casa Grande”  (Big House) dates back to 1910. It was a residential building commissioned by D. Eduardo Gutiérrez Cedrún to the Leonese architect Francisco de la Pezuela y Ramírez, who obtained the Third Medal of Architecture at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1908 with this project. It is a typical house of a bourgeoisie family which combines an eclectic mix of elements. Located on the edge of the historic center of Cáceres, it has the appearance of a medieval fortress, it is flanked by two towers, and some modernist elements can still be appreciated.

This building is characterized by the solid and monumental appearance of the main façade, organized in a U, which contrasts with the lightness of stairs, bays and galleries of the rear façade. In both, an evident interest in the typological diversity of the openings and in the creation of rhythms and correspondences between them confers a distinctive and eclectic note to the building. The various rooms were distributed around an open central courtyard, thus also recovering the memory of the palaces in the historic center of the city.

However, the original house –whose first projects date back to 1905– was the subject of successive transformations throughout its history (such as the removal of masonry and ceramic floors from the hall by stonework) to adapt it to the daily needs of the family or adapt it to other functions. These include the profound renovations carried out in 1952, when the balustraded windows on the lower floor of the patio were transformed into entrance bays with stairs, the inclusion of coffered plaster ceilings simulating wood or the transfer of the neo-Gothic chapel from the main floor to the place that the goal occupied on the ground floor, adding neo-Gothic plaster decoration.

In addition, in 1977, other transformations took place, especially in the rear façade, when the upper iron and glass gallery was destroyed; elimination that, with the substitution of the original staircase, would distort the original layout of the rear area. Process of alteration and additions that would continue later with the acquisition of the Casa Grande by the University of Extremadura and the attribution of new functions (School of Computer Science and Public Works, Administrative Services of the Rectorate of the UEX).

Before the inauguration of the Center for Visual Arts, on June 3, 2010, it was the object of extensive rehabilitation work, authored by the renowned couple of architects Emilio Tuñón and Luis M. Mansilla, which ranged from the cleaning of non-original elements to the consolidation, restoration and adaptation to the new museum functions to which the building is intended. The architectural intervention criterion aims to reconcile respect for the building with the needs of its use as an exhibition center and promote neutral spaces that allow the exhibition and, at the same time, respect the museographic needs of conservation of works of art.


 ‘Panorama de Obras de Arquitectura y Urbanismo del XV Bienal Española prize


 Architizer A+ Awards  




 AMO Prix “Best Urban catalyzer Award” 



Sustainability Mention at the IV MATCOAM Awards 



COAM 2021, Luis M. Mansilla  Award




Architecture MasterPrize

“Best cultural building Award” 2020    





Dezeen Awards 2021 candidate





 FAD de Architecture and Interiorism Award 




Mies van der Rohe Award finalist 







 «Best Architecture exhibition» Spain-Korea,  Culture and Welfare Alward


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