Sometimes built environments are the result of their design development, and other times the aesthetic and atmospheric quality of a building is wholly the result of the existing environment that informs it.
On the outskirts of Barcelona, a former cement factory of grandiose proportions took on a new functionality in 1975 when prolific Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill re-asserted its brutalist aesthetic and industrial scope. Today Bofill House is partly Ricardo’s private residence and partly home to his award-winning architectural and urban design practise. Somewhere during the process of Ricardo’s considered adaptation of the complex the buildings have taken on monastic qualities. A sense of spirituality radiates and sets the site a part as an iconic architectural realisation that pays homage to the brutalist style and the harmony that can exist between the man-made form and nature.
Bofill House stands as a reminder of its industry. Originally a cement factory, its adaptive resurrection for residential and corporate use has ultimately resulted in a celebration of juxtaposition. The harsh materiality of its brutalist form is poetically softened by soaring ceilings and softly arched window openings. Punctuated by its silo’s which rise majestically against a backdrop of wild greenery, the silent sentinels impose upon the place a sense of solitude and calm. A nod to the passage of time since the industrial complex was originally constructed at the turn of the century. A sense of surrealism is established between the partially ruined built form and the elegantly timeless interiors which are clean, minimal, soft in places and mostly contemporary in design.
Ricardo Bofill’s prolific architectural practise – Taller de Arquitectura – is globally renowned for its utopian approach to social housing solutions and imposing monuments dedicated to bureaucratic necessity. However, Bofill House exudes a quality of mad etheriality. Almost as though it is determined to break away from constraint and instead remain anchored to the past and the loose acknowledgement that buildings are a accumulation of their parts and the purpose we impose upon them. Somehow, at Bofill House, this culminates in a collection of dream-like, monolithic spaces which respond to Ricardo’s singularly incomparable approach to architecture.
Words by Tiffany Jade.
Images by Derek Swalwell.