Architect turned cement factory into surreal home + Feelings & architecture

Architect Transforms Abandoned Cement Factory into a Surreal Home

EXCERPT: In 1973, Spanish Architect Ricardo Bofill stumbled upon a derelict cement factory located just outside of Barcelona that dated back to the first period of the industrialization of Catalonia. The building stood as a dilapidated reminder of the devastation that WWI brought to Europe, as it sunk into it’s crumbling structure, consumed by a harrowing emptiness and forsaken now to the aging effects of nature. Amid all the destruction and ruin, Bofill came alive with the notion of opportunity.

The building was erected in several stages; a series of additional structures were clearly added to the original. Incredulous in its size, Bofill and his team studied the aesthetics of the structure, noting the post war interior trends that were abundant in its architecture. Surrealism was consistent in the buildings paradoxical stairs that lead to nowhere, and abstract spaces that appeared unnecessarily vast and weirdly proportioned—though these are the same intense features that seemed to bring about a sense of phantasmagorical disproportion, a notion that Bofill found instantly endearing.

Seduced by the ambiguity of the raw and broken structure, Bofill decided to retain and modify it into his finest masterpiece yet. Featuring four kilometers of underground tunnels, machine rooms, giant silos, and a tall smoke stack, this was going to be no simple task....

Feelings are a better way to discuss architecture than concepts

EXCERPT: [...] Architects, in fact, have something to learn from novelists, and perhaps especially writers of stories for children, who are adept at describing buildings in ways that relate closely to real life. Rather than presenting them in terms of ‘concepts’ – such a mid-century way of doing things! – they often offer glimpses into the character of places through vignettes: an entrance way, a hall, a room, a view. They leave the rest to the imagination of the reader, just as listeners to the best radio dramas develop the characters mostly in their own heads. That approach can be applied to architectural criticism and history. The lesson is this: abandon the idea that there is one way of describing a building and instead draw on the many sources that we use to evaluate culture generally to give a building its due respect....

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