So La Casa Encendida is a kind of socially-conscious project/creative and learning space sponsored by the Caja Madrid bank....
The building has several floors with various different spaces, most notably:
-a large covered patio space, often used for live music perfomances
-exhibition space for various types of art (photography, audiovisual, etc)
-fair trade shop, selling everything from food, to clothes, handmade crafts, and more
-recycling points throughout the building
-a delightful roof terrace, with a wonderful view across the city rooftops
Courses, workshops and a library resource are among other facilities on offer.
This has quickly become one of my top favourite creative spaces in Madrid... always evolving, offering something new.... yet despite its massive popularity (exhibitions and events may involve a fair queue outside to enter), retains a lovely feeling of light and space which is not easily found here in the city at times. (For example, compare with the Prado museum which is a little claustrophobic at peak times)....
Entrance to the building is free, and most services/events are also free, or otherwise a very low cost.
I recently attended a music event with 12 hours' solid of various bands (including a personal favourite - Muchachito Bombero Infierno), and being free entrance they allowed access to the maximum number of people possible by simply clearing out the audience at the end of each hour and having a continual queue outside (which you then go and join again) in order to maintain a fair capacity. (Many venues in Madrid can tend to be overloaded with people and this can feel a little suffocating for some, like me!)
Just like the Fundacion Caja Madrid, La Casa Encendida is supported by Caja Madrid and it is therefore open to the public free of charge. It is a social and cultural center that specializes in contemporary visual arts, and for this reason it is quite different from all the other museums in Madrid. It features the works of some of today's most creative and radical artists, resulting in exhibitions that range from breath-taking beauty to downright bizarre. When I was there, I got to see a remarkable photo exhibit by Ellen Kooi (http://www.ellenkooi.nl - look her up, she's fantastic!), played some rather bloody (but oh-so amusing!) video games, took part in the interactive exhibits, and watched a few really strange short films. My friend Luis and I thought we would take a quick look around and leave but we ended up spending about two hours at La Casa Encendida, and it is one of those rare museums where I would recommend going with a friend because you can then play together. A really different and fun experience!
La Casa Encendida is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm everyday. Admission is free.
Another excellent venue that offfers temporary exhibitions, conferences, audiovisual and a children's area.