During his travels as a young man, the Spanish master architect Ricardo Bofill first encountered the major cement factory outside of Barcelona. An industrial complex from the turn of the century consisting of over 30 silos, subterranean galleries and huge machine rooms. After it got disused, Bofill bought the whole premises in 1973 and decided to transform it into the head office of his firm Taller de Arquitectura. Remodelling work lasted two years. The factory, abandoned and partially in ruins, was a compendium of surrealist elements: stairs that climbed up to nowhere, mighty reinforced concrete structures that sustained nothing, pieces of iron hanging in the air, huge empty spaces filled nonetheless with magic. Last Summer the Spanish filmmaker Albert Moya caught the magical place for Nowness on film in a perfect manner, making us want to visit Bofill’s visionary work of architecture and interior design over and over again.
Nowadays we want everyone who comes through our door to feel comfortable, but that’s not Bofill’s idea here. It goes much further, you connect with the space in a more spiritual way.
The transformation process began with the demolition of part of the old structure to leave hitherto concealed forms visible, as if the concrete had been sculpted. Once the spaces had been defined, cleaned of cement and encompassed by new greenery, the process began of adaptation to the new programme. Eight silos remained, which became offices, a models laboratory, archives, a library, a projections room and a gigantic space known as The Cathedral, used for exhibitions, concerts and a whole range of cultural functions linked to the professional activities of the architect. The complex stands in the midst of gardens with eucalyptus, palms, olive trees and cypresses, forming a dream-like premises in which we could wander and observe for days.
It is Bofill’s monolithic conversion showcased here that is undoubtedly his most personal work: a successful, and beautiful experiment in repurposing space, which has become a landmark of alternative living.
Images courtesy of Ricardo Bofill.
For more information and work by Ricardo Bofill see here.
(Via arch daily)