Over the past 45 years, Ricardo Bofill and his firm, RBTA, have undertaken a breathtaking renovation of La Fábrica, an impressive home, and office situated just outside Barcelona.
In 1973, Bofill stumbled upon an abandoned cement factory and saw potential in its ruins. With the help of local craftsmen, he set about transforming the sprawling structure, reimagining the silos and compounds into a magical home that artfully blends surrealism, brutalism, and modernism.
The renovation, which is located in Catalonia, Spain, is a testament not only to its stunning appearance but also to Bofill’s ongoing desire to create a livable home and studio out of the once-formidable concrete fortress.
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The transformation of La Fábrica commenced with the demolition of a portion of the pre-existing structure, which allowed the concealed forms to be revealed, appearing as if they had been sculpted from the concrete. Once the spaces had been defined, cleaned of cement, and enveloped by new greenery, the adaptation process to the new program began.
Of the original structure, eight silos were preserved and converted into various functional spaces, including offices, a models laboratory, archives, a library, a projections room, and an enormous area referred to as “The Cathedral.” This space is utilized for a wide range of cultural activities, such as exhibitions, concerts, and events related to the architect’s professional activities.
The entire complex is surrounded by lush gardens featuring a variety of trees, including eucalyptus, palms, olive trees, and cypresses. This project serves as a testament to the fact that a creative architect can repurpose any space for a new function, regardless of how different it may be from its original purpose.
On his website, Bofill elaborated that the abandoned factory housed “different visual and aesthetic trends” that had emerged since World War I. These included surrealist staircases, absurd elements, enigmatic yet charming proportions, abstract volumes, and rough surface materials. Guided by this vision, the architect and his team acquired the old factory and transformed it into Bofill’s home and the team’s studio.
After an extensive 45-year-long renovation process, “La fábrica” was finally completed. The building’s roof and surroundings were entirely enveloped in verdant vegetation, while the distinct parts of the factory retained their original architectural style and form, now hosting various functions. To achieve an open design studio, certain interior walls were removed, and the factory’s expansive openings were maintained, allowing natural light to flood into the spacious interior.
Ricardo Bofill has described “La fábrica” as the best place to live and work, a sanctuary where he can concentrate and generate abstract ideas. He feels as though he lives within a protected realm, removed from the outside world and daily life.
According to Bofill, “The Cement Factory” is an ideal place to work, with a seamless blend of work and leisure. He even likens the environment to that which propelled the Industrial Revolution in Catalonia, noting that life carries on in an uninterrupted sequence within the factory’s walls.
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