In 2014, the brewing company Mahou acquired the Palace of the Dukes of El Infantado, an 18th-century mansion in the district of La Latina. The idea was to launch a cultural project with a permanent headquarters, a space equipped with catering facilities where objects related to the company’s history could be displayed; but that future centre also needed a programme with its own personality, one that would ensure its continued use and make it a vibrant hub of culture and tourism in Madrid.
After purchasing the property, Mahou issued a call for proposals to remodel the building, and the winner was Héctor Fernández Elorza. Next, the company asked several museography companies to submit ideas for the future centre’s programme of activities and public image, from its name to its visual identity. Although the initial idea was to model it after the centres opened by Guinness in Dublin and Heineken in Amsterdam, focused on the history of the brand and beer culture, Mahou also wanted to consider other options.
With the assistance of a group of experts on cultural industries, Empty came up with an integral and integrating proposal that featured a dynamic exhibition programme and a unique system of cultural production based on “work stations” for proposing workshops and other activities that would appeal to different audiences. In addition to defining the concept, Empty’s proposal developed the contents, museography and necessary technical systems. Unfortunately, after a second round of the tender procedure, in which Empty was declared a finalist, Mahou decided to cancel the process because, in its own words, at the time the company did not have a clear idea of what the premises of the project should be.