Ferrovial Agroman recovers original facade of Beti Jai historic fronton in Madrid

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restoration project beti jai fronton madrid
The historic fronton court recovers its original facade after completing the first phase of the restoration project. The canvas covering the Beti Jai court was lifted last April, as it took more than one year of renovation work to finalise the first restoration phase of this Madrid historic court (Jai Alai), that has just opened its doors to the mass media.The fronton court is located at number 7, Marqués de Riscal Street, Madrid. A work of Joaquin de Rucoba y Octavio de Toledo, Architect, construction proceedings started in 1893 and these involved the utilization of innovative materials and techniques for its time. The court was catalogued as a Protected Special Heritage building, occupying a 3609 m2 plot, with a built-up surface of 10800 m2.

Beti-Jai history

From its completion and up to 1918, this building was used as a fronton court. From 1919 onwards, it was used for a variety of purposes: as a car repair shop, a police station, a jail and a plaster and plasterboard workshop. Given the state of abandonment experienced by this Neo-mudejar and Eclectic styles building, and based on the history and objectives underlying its construction, in 1977, the Official Association of Architects of Madrid, prepared a study to request the preservation and the usage of the building for public purposes. This way, in 1991 it attained the status of “National Heritage Building”, and later in 2011, it was catalogued as a “Cultural Interest Building”.The Eclectic Style facade at 7, Marques de Riscal Street, is the only architectural element visible from outside the building. With an elliptic floor, the interior of the building is endowed with some remarkable elements, such as a curved lateral Neo-mudéjar style façade, cast iron columns and curved support beams for the grandstand, assuring court visibility from any angle.

The restoration project

The building had to withstand the test of time, during the many years it was not utilized. To mitigate the damage, Ferrovial Agroman has put in motion various historic restoration works for the General Directorate of Heritage: in July 2016, the advanced state of disrepair, out of the years of abandonment and lack of maintenance was patent, so all those architectural elements in danger of collapse, those that could affect other parts of the building that could be recovered and restored, were removed.  The ultimate objective of historic restoration project was to bring Beti-Jai back to its original beauty, as well as the necessary conditions for a public building utilization. For this purpose, work proceeded externally to reinforce the building foundations, without altering the court statics, and to recover the interior walls verticality. Besides, in its internal side, the Marques de Riscal facade has been recovered:  the upper balustrade and the buttress with the name of the fronton court. In addition, non-original elements have been eliminated, and with regard to the roofs, the original ones have been recovered, including the lambrequins.During the delicate and laborious work, every constructive element that was found was analysed, and subsequently verified whether or not it was original. Some elements stood out, such as the finding in the main body of the building of the 1814 original roof tiles, coming from the “Gran Tejería of Eloy Silió” (The Great Tile Factory of Eloy Silió). These were used for moulds for additional tile fabrication and installation.This construction work is carried out within the “Framework of Remedial Pathologies in Buildings of Madrid City Council of Ferrovial Agromán”. The team of this work comprises: José Luis Abad, Manager; Laura Soler and César Gutiérrez, Works Managers;  David Preciado and Pablo Soliva, Production Managers; Mario Arranz, Francisco Javier Arias and Alberto Grañeda, Foremen, and Miguel Cazorla, Administrative Officer.

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