ST 2021 | Fàbrica Can Ricart BarcelonaCopyright: © Signe Schuler
The Fàbrica Can Ricart in Barcelona
Master's Thesis by Signe Schuler
The former textile factory Can Ricart is located in the Innovation District 22@ in the Poblenou area of Barcelona. As one of the largest continuously preserved industrial complexes of the 19th century in Catalonia, it still refers to the golden age of the Catalan textile industry. Although in 2008 the factory was declared a cultural monument of national interest, it has since then been abandoned and currently remains in a ruinous state amidst the office towers, commercial buildings, and residential blocks of the surrounding area. After previous conversion projects failed for financial reasons, the complex urban development situation and the conflict between residents and investors, the building site in the southern area of the property was approved by the city administration for further development. Since the development plan doesn’t respect the existing buildings of the old factory and fails to integrate the interests of the neighborhood residents, the fictional design task was to develop a coherent conversion concept for the front section of the industrial complex.
Due to its location on the Pere IV cultural axis, the accommodation of culture- and art-oriented uses on this site is strongly desired. Therefore, a conversion concept for an art, culture and creative industries cluster has been developed. In addition to a venue for interdisciplinary artistic creation, initiated by the 19 higher education art schools of Catalonia, the site will remain accessible to the neighbourhood residents through multi-use facilities. In addition, rental and coworking spaces will ensure the economic feasibility of the project. The spacial program includes an event hall and a library as well as rehearsal spaces for music, dance and theatre. Furthermore, there are student workspaces, various workshops, labs and a central courtyard that serves as a multifunctional outdoor space and can be co-used by the nearby restaurant.
The various open spaces and squares created by the arrangement of the individual buildings are characteristic of the Can Ricart factory site. These carefully laid out former representation areas of the factory serve as a base for the design of the conversion. The overall concept is based on the principle of "interior space, intermediate space, exterior space". The conversion is intended to create transitional spaces, such as sheltered outdoor spaces and intermediate zones between the existing buildings and their surroundings. These are also important for climatic reasons and respond to the Mediterranean climate. Various transition zones, such as the work yard or the entrance zone in front of the event hall, also contribute to the accentuation of the old existing buildings. In addition, they refer to the conflict-ridden period between 2005 and today by alluding to the recapture of the site by nature during this time.
Materiality plays an important role in linking the various individual buildings to one another. Exposed brickwork walls are used in the existing buildings of the factory and as well as in the new building in Nau 11. Brick is a regional, sustainably produced and classic material of Spanish architecture. Inside the factory buildings, the existing walls will be cleaned, but on the exterior façades, the different layers of color, material and graffiti will remain legible. The color white is also of great importance for the design. It serves as a connecting element between all the individual buildings, like a central theme. For the extension, the structural principle of the 19th-century production space was inverted, creating a delicate façade that, with its textile sunshades, refers to the former use of the site as a textile factory. The massive cores inside span an atrium with communication zones. The outer skeleton allows for flexible room sizes, creating a versatile floor plan that can respond to different use scenarios.
The documentation of the site and measurements of the industrial complex, on which this thesis is based, were kindly provided by Antequem SL | Arqueologia Patrimoni Cultural.