What Happens When an Architect Transforms a Cement Factory Into a Studio
Outside of Barcelona sits a former cement factory that has been transformed into a striking architects' studio by Ricardo Bofill and his team.
Bofill found the dilapidated factory in 1973, according to Bored Panda. The factory, which had been constructed in the early 1900s, was not a single structure, but instead an industrial complex of more than 30 silos, underground galleries, and giant machine rooms that were added on in fits and starts.
“The abandoned and half-ruined factory was a magic box of wonderful, surrealist elements: stairs that led nowhere, imposing structures in reinforced concrete supporting nothing, enormous heavy forms in iron and concrete left hanging in midair, huge empty spaces of unlikely proportions suggesting abstractions of space and its limits,” according to Taller de Arquitectura.
To create the structure that stands today, the architect embarked on a process of destruction and reconstruction.
Bofill says La Fábrica is an ongoing project.
The exterior of the factory-turned-studio, which is surrounded by greenery. The plan was to have the vegetation “climb up the walls but also descend from the roofs towards the ground,” said Bofill.
The windows in the silos hint at what's inside.
Even a simple meal would be dramatic at this table.
“The abandoned and half-ruined factory was a magic box of wonderful, surrealist elements: stairs that led nowhere, imposing structures in reinforced concrete supporting nothing, enormous heavy forms in iron and concrete left hanging in midair.”
The concrete factory's features are contrasted and complemented by the architectural additions and decor.
The living room is full of light during the day, and dramatically lit in the evening.
An Artist's Home
“Slowly, and with the marvelous assistance of Catalan craftsmen, the factory was transformed,” said Bofill. “It will always be an unfinished work. I live there now and work there better that anywhere else.”
“If, as my eyes moved rapidly over the scene,” Bofill wrote in 1990. “I already had a kaleidoscopic vision of another space to come.”
'A Series of Buildings'
“The construction of the old factory, which dates from Barcelona’s first industrial period, had not followed any overall plan,” Bofill wrote. “A series of buildings were erected as different production needs arose. The plastic result was, therefore, a series of stratified units reminiscent of the process of vernacular architecture applied to industry.”
“As far as I am concerned, it is, for the moment, the only place where I can ponder and digest received information and associate ideas in the most abstract way,” wrote Bofill.
Sculpting a Building
“It was precise work, consisting in the revelation of hidden forms and the accentuation of certain spaces, work comparable to that of a sculptor when he begins to attack the material.”
'Dynamite and Jackhammer'
“Work began with dynamite and jackhammer, and continued for more than a year and a half,” Bofill wrote of the demolition after he discovered the property in 1973.
“Won over by the contradictions, the ambiguity of the place,” said Bofill, “I quickly decided to keep the factory, to divert it from its initial ugliness, by sculpting it like a work of art.”
The roof is covered in greenery.
Bofill credits his skilled team with the transformation.
Lush vegetation contrasts with concrete structures.
The industrial aspects are softened with the lush greenery.
“The doors, windows and decorative elements are clear references to a cultured, historical architecture, in contrast to what might be described as the industrial vernacular of the original factory.”
“I constantly have the impression of being in an industrial universe,” wrote Bofill.
The factory's elements inspired additional structures.
An exterior angle.
The exterior spaces—from the courtyard to the rooftop to the pathways—are also painstakingly designed.