la fabrica is a 3,100 m2 cement factory located near barcelona, spain, which serves as the unique backdrop to local architect ricardo bofill‘s studio and home. the factory, which was first built in the post world war I era, is an architectural timeline of transformative vernacular having expanded through various styles as new functions called for an expanded program. the complex, providing a beautiful and varied series of spaces spanning from brutalist to surrealist with an industrial flavor, underwent a series of processes that converted the existing structure into a studio, gallery, garden, and home- a re-purposed city within an abandoned factory slowly engulfed by vegetation.
gardens are planted throughout the complex immersing each programmatic element in greenery
images courtesy of ricardo bofill taller de arquitectura
consisting of such a wide range of structures, the first step to renovation consisted in the calculated demolition of certain elements with the use of jackhammers and dynamite. approached as a sculpture, the goal was to uncover hidden rooms, create new relationships between the different parts of the building, and make inaccessible the dangerous or otherwise unusable parts, such as the cement-filled silos. bofill‘s next step was to begin the planting process, creating a series of gardens within the premises, rooftop oases, and vegetative nodes that would slowly encapsulate the structure over time to blur the line between nature and building. finally, the program would be fit into the resultant stage of restored decrepit concrete updated through new spatial relationships. form and function are to remain exclusive of one another- given the unique nature of the factory the functions could be fit within any space if the architect is agile enough to re-envision their use to the existing conditions.
each element is re-envisioned for new use while still demonstrating its unique structural style
as a result, la fabrica became a convergence of equal parts industrial vernacular, garden, and updated use so that none one of the three elements takes particular dominance over the other and yet provides enough conceptual distance so as to allow each element to stand alone. the factory stands as a fortress protected from the world, semi-hidden within the greenery, where the studio’s ideas can take shape.
the gallery space was created by removing many walls of the primary factory space to create a clear visual connection between the various parts
large halls expose the scale and construction of the original structure
a seating area and library is tucked within a corner of the main factory space, creating a room with plenty of natural light and long curtains to section it of
the silo’s stair wells were slightly re-designed and painted, with new skylights that flood the dramatic space with natural light that diminishes with its depth
program: architectural offices, archives, model laboratory, exhibition space. / bofill’s apartment, guest rooms, gardens.
total floor area: 3,100 m2 and gardens
house area: 500 m2