Defunct industrial complexes have an attraction that is hard to resist. Their cavernous spaces and specialized structures built for utilitarian purposes are often accidentally poetic and make for beautiful architecture. Richard Bofill found one of these beautiful spaces in Sant Just Desvern, Spain, and gave it a new life.
Bofill found this decommissioned cement factory from the turn of the century in 1973 and decided to make it the headquarters of Taller de Arquitectura. The complex is made up of 30 cement silos, subterranean galleries and machine rooms. Repurposing such a site is quite a daunting task. Bofill started by demolishing some of the old structure to uncover the sculptural forms hidden from sight. The eight silos that were left were made into offices, a model laboratory, archives, a library, a projection room and an exhibition space named “The Cathedral.” Much of the old infrastructure was left in place, becoming striking sculptures in the new programing. Cement chutes are suspended precariously above desks and models. Staircases, which were essential to the workings of the factory, now lead up to nowhere. Many of the walls were left in their raw state, with the concrete finishing the walls with great depth. Multi volume windows were dressed in extra long curtains creating a sense of palatial opulence. Throughout the space, luxurious materials are mixed with rough ones creating a rich palette that works.
The factory is surrounded by beautiful gardens that drive home its palatial proportions. This renovation has not only been true to the history of the factory, but has succeeded in giving it a whole new future.