When artist Ricardo Bofill came upon a broken down cement factory, back in 1973, he saw more than just a building. Instead, Bofill saw potential and that potential would soon be realized into what we now know as La Fabrica. Over the past 45 years, people have watched in wonder as Bofill chose to renovate the dilapidated cement factory, turning it into one of the most impressive mansions in all of Barcelona. Let’s get inside of this fascinating structure and see just how Bofill turned an old WW1-era pollution center into a piece of art.
25. It started in 1973.
If you had never heard of Bofill, well, we’d forgive you. After all, who really knows a ton about international architecture? In any case, Bofill has been practicing his profession as an artist and an architect since the age of 23 — amassing over 1,000 projects throughout the world. La Fabrica may just be his crowning jewel, pictured here.
24. A monolith of beauty and reformation.
Perhaps the most alluring aspect of Bofill’s work is how he integrates nature into man’s own machine. The trestles of vines seem to live alongside the artwork of the building, twining in and out.
23. At first, there were ruins.
When Bofill first happened upon the factory he came to the realization that he would have to tear down in order to build up. The building had been decomposing for years so Bofill decided to hasten the process in a few key areas to help shape the layout.
22. Creating a modern environment was his goal.
Bofill decided to tear down only segments of the cement factory. His goal was to leave enough structure there to make it seem like a natural formation had emerged straight from the ground — free of man’s own design. We can certainly see where he was going with this decision, can you?
21. A workspace for artists emerged.
He then decided to plant all of the vines and natural growth on the exterior of the building. He wanted the exterior of La Fabrica to look almost wild, and natural. The interior, on the other hand, was going to be a modern workspace that any artist or architect could feel at home within.
20. A look backward.
Now is as good of a time as any to look back to where it all started. Bofill saw great potential in this dilapidated, broken down lot.
19. The silos were the crowning jewel.
While we are enamored by most industrial design, we found that the silos at La Fabrica were particularly inviting. We are glad that Bofill shared that sentiment. Of the many silos on premises, he would leave eight of them erect for his design work.
18. Nature meets man in artistic expression.
After seeing the ‘old’ images, can you see just how Bofill approached the project? Here we see that he has carefully cultivated a delicate yet wild exterior to La Fabrica.
17. Cultivating the grounds.
An architect’s duty isn’t confined to just pencils and straight lines. Bofill went to great lengths in order to give La Fabrica as much of a natural feel as possible. Here we see a picture of the gardens. The clean cement lines look wonderful with the delicate, wild palms dominating the foreground. The exterior grounds were one of Bofill’s first jobs upon renovating the area. He wanted to make sure that he made the garden and outdoor area really pop before attending to the interior.
16. Bofill creates an escape.
An artist uses their work to captivate, escape, and dream in new and exciting ways. These artistic measures became rather literal once the facility was open for people to live in. Bofill says, “I have the impression of living in a closed universe which protects me from the outside and everyday life.” Do you think that you could get away in a building like this? We sure could. Imagine the silence of being ensconced in one of those giant silos of luxury.
15. No two rooms are alike.
Bofill admits that work on La Fabrica will never be finished. His favorite area is the factory, which has turned into a cosmopolitan getaway. Bofill calls this area, “A magic place which strange atmosphere is difficult to be perceived.” We can only imagine what it feels like to be standing in a building so old and so teeming with history. The factory was first built in the late 19th century. The amount of history that it has seen must be incredible.
14. Function and relaxation intertwine.
When you are a world renowned artist you can be free to meld your luxury with your labor. Here we see one of the many different relaxation areas within La Fabrica. Though relaxation and luxury is a key, no two areas are similar. Bofill honed in on different forms of Gothic, postmodern, and surrealist fashion to create the complex of his dreams.
13. Aged elegance on display.
While Bofill was hands on with his changes, he never let them go too far. It’s easy to see the original personality of the old factory, even in places where modern updates have been placed.
12. Despite the luxury, work is a focal point.
You can’t go more than a handful of steps before coming across another functional workplace that, odds are, is inhabited by busy workers. While the building is a piece of artwork, it is also a functioning office.
11. A mysterious and romantic ruin.
After the building was purchased it would take a full two years of renovation before Bofill could start putting his touches on. Upon entering the building at this stage you would not be wrong to call it a mysterious ruin. There were stairs that went to nowhere, doors that opened to abandoned rooms, and more.
10. A truly unique experience.
After Bofill and his crew tore down old buildings they began to work on renovating the silos. Eight silos were left and they would each be renovated for unique uses. Of these remaining silos, they would become a library, a laboratory, a projection room, a Cathedral, offices, and an archive. Winding between all of these places of work one can enjoy the natural elements that Bofill was sure to include.
9. The Cathedral.
Perhaps one of the most captivating rooms in the entire complex is The Cathedral. The Cathedral, behind these glass doors, is a meeting place for culture and artistic enlightenment. The room, featuring ceilings upwards of 30 feet high, features an exhibit area as well as a conference room. The walls are concrete and the features industrial. You can’t forget that this was a cement factory at one point in time but it still feels different.
8. Still, home calls in every building.
Despite the intimidating features, Bofill was careful to make sure that the building felt like home. Here we see the first-floor kitchen, below Bofill’s office. This is the primary meeting place for the Bofill family before their work day begins. Can you imagine eating in this rustic kitchen, surrounded by artistic monoliths?
7. The work is never ending.
Despite the vast amounts of progress that Ricardo Bofill has wrought on the building, he readily admits that the work will never be done. The building is constantly evolving, constantly changing, and it figures to be a mainstay in the Bofill family.
6. Still, Bofill finds joy in the challenge.
Each room in the gigantic complex gives off an entirely different charm. Here we see a surreal; almost Kubrick inspired usage of color. Another room, perhaps The Cathedral, will remind us of modern elegance. No two rooms are alike in terms of style, size, or function.
5. A beautiful view of The Cathedral.
Here we see The Cathedral on display in all of its glory. In the background, we can see artistic displays standing right next to the old cement factory equipment. In the foreground, a gigantic table is utilized for conference meetings. For people at this level of success, well, even going to work looks luxurious. We sure wouldn’t mind clocking in here.
4. A closer look at the equipment.
A good artist can completely transform a space and make you forget that the old area ever existed. A great artist will take a space and evolve it, leaving just enough traces of its former self to make you appreciate the evolution all the more. These cement mixing tanks are gorgeous, gigantic, and intimidating. Their raw look of strength plays so well against the upscale, downright dainty furnishings that Bofill put in place.
3. A building with a future.
When Ricardo had stumbled upon the building he knew that he was looking at something destined to pass away. The cement factory had been abandoned, condemned, and forced to fall apart in slow motion. It was his decision to step in and cultivate the area to his liking, that would save the history behind the building. Every inch of La Fabrica is a reminder of centuries gone by, of a different era.
2. Every change started small.
While La Fabrica is a giant space, and each change is large in and of itself, Bofill had to look at every room individually. This great sketch shows to what degree he and his team would go to in order to ensure that all of their details were perfected. No room was worth glossing over, no detail was worth ignoring. Bofill and his crew have become international architectural superstars for a reason.
1. Dreams of an artist.
We are almost 45 years down the line from when Ricardo Bofill took La Fabrica under his wings. Over that time period the building, the grounds, and the surrounding area has undergone some very extreme changes. We don’t want to expound too much on the role of an artist, but we feel like it is important to note in this case. This old cement factory dated all the way back to Catalonia’s first era of industrialization. Bofill preserved that time period and incorporated it into his brutalist, abstract, and surreal artwork. The results speak for themselves.
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