The department store is located in the former Hotel Roma, which was the first building completed on Madrid’s Gran Vía. The original design (1911) is by the French architect Paul Ernest Sanson, and the definitive design (1913), based on the former, by the Spanish architect Eduardo Reynals Toledo. The building was inaugurated as a hotel in 1916 but has undergone various changes over the years: after the Spanish Civil War it became the headquarters of Banco Ibérico, while alterations carried out in 1946, 1955 and 1966 transformed its original function as well its decorative elements. Its most recent use before the conversion into a department store was as an office building.
External Reference was responsible for the interior design project and defined the general concept for each floor of the building as well as the layout and materials to use. The design is innovative in the retail world, offering customers a “phygital” experience that combines the physical and digital through lighting effects and the finishes, decoration and furnishings or audiovisual installations.
Empty managed the interventions on six of the eight floors of the building, specifically the lowest ones, including the basement. Each floor obeys a different concept related to the products and brands on sale. For example, the ground floor, where the restored original pilasters recall classical architecture, is decorated with reinterpreted classical sculptures and the ceiling simulates the grooves on the pilasters. On the third floor, where sportswear and equipment will be sold, the setting evokes a reinterpreted gym.
The fact that Empty acted as the construction manager at the department store rather than the construction company led to a more fluid relationship between the designers and the client, certain technical improvements, and optimum control of the production processes and works in situ.