Cement Factory by Taller De Arquitectura

Architect:Taller De Arquitectura, Barcelona 1975.
Location:Sant Just Desvern, Barcelona, Spain.
Total floor area:m2 3.100 and gardens
House area: m2 1,000
Construction years:1973-1975
Program: Architectural offices, archives, model laboratory, exhibition space./ Bofill’s apartment, guest rooms, gardens.

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In 1973 Ricardo Bofill found a disused cement factory, an industrial complex from the turn of the century consisting of over 30 silos, subterranean galleries and huge machine rooms, and he decided to transform it into the head office of 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.

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”, in which 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. This project is evidence of the fact that an imaginative architect may adapt any space to a new function, no matter how different it may be from the original one.

Ricardo Bofill says:
“In architecture there are no lost causes, is what I wanted to prove to the factory, my study and my house, situated on the outskirts of Barcelona, a Manifesto my own house and the work space of my team. I liked to stroll through the industrial waste sites and for this no man’s land where the city is torn apart, where old brick chimneys punctuate the anarchic struggle between the fields and blocks of concrete. I knew a damn place, a cemetery surrounded by the countryside, the industrial zone and dry areas. It was long ago that the fireplace has not smoked; it was already evidence of the past. I wanted to live there for the pleasure of challenge. I chose to settle inside the silos, open windows in the narrow walls, similar to those of a Romanesque church, preserve all the hesitation between the ruin and the cloister, under humbling reflection indispensable to the image of destruction.

We occupied the factory as certain occupy desert villages: each silo, linked or not to the other, was a kind of housing unit. Everyday there are crossed fifty people and work, certainly in good harmony.
So I verified that everything can be extracted from a given space: industrial structure, in principle restrictive, the introduction of two new programs in themselves difficult to reconcile: the profession of design, reflection and meetings coexist there: I never regret it.”Ricardo Bofill says:
“In architecture there are no lost causes, is what I wanted to prove to the factory, my study and my house, situated on the outskirts of Barcelona, a Manifesto my own house and the work space of my team. I liked to stroll through the industrial waste sites and for this no man’s land where the city is torn apart, where old brick chimneys punctuate the anarchic struggle between the fields and blocks of concrete. I knew a damn place, a cemetery surrounded by the countryside, the industrial zone and dry areas. It was long ago that the fireplace has not smoked; it was already evidence of the past. I wanted to live there for the pleasure of challenge. I chose to settle inside the silos, open windows in the narrow walls, similar to those of a Romanesque church, preserve all the hesitation between the ruin and the cloister, under humbling reflection indispensable to the image of destruction.

We occupied the factory as certain occupy desert villages: each silo, linked or not to the other, was a kind of housing unit. Everyday there are crossed fifty people and work, certainly in good harmony.
So I verified that everything can be extracted from a given space: industrial structure, in principle restrictive, the introduction of two new programs in themselves difficult to reconcile: the profession of design, reflection and meetings coexist there: I never regret it.”

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