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Abandoned factory exterior that is now a home.

Sculpting an Empire: The Former Factory That is Now Home to Architect Ricardo Bofill

How the Spanish architect created an empire of beauty in an abandoned factory.

There are homes that take your breath away—and then there is Ricardo Bofill’s.  A brutalist former factory in the outskirts of Barcelona that is now his expansive Taller de Arquitectura and his home.  This video, directed by Albert Moya, has the extremely rare quality of making us feel as if we were physically entering that enormous industrial castle and breathing its fresh air.

Bofill knew this factory when it was still in use. It was the largest and oldest cement factory and Spain, and is one of the most polluting. When he found out that it was up for sale, he collected the money to purchase the structure, and its reconstruction began in 1973.  The factory, which was partially in ruins, included every type of surreal element: underground galleries, massive machinery rooms, staircases leading to nowhere, solid concrete structures that supported nothing and pieces of iron hanging from cables attached to the roof. The first thing he did was demolish part of the old structure to give visibility to some areas that were hidden underneath the concrete; in a way he sculpted the great industrial monster to reveal its ribcage of beauty.

Afterwards, and to counteract the polluting fog that emerged from his chimney for so many years, Bofill allowed nature to take over the factory.  Now the complex is home to eucalyptus gardens, olive trees, vines and cypresses.  The brutalism of the former factory is home to the romanticism of new windows, gardens and broad spaces with large curtains that appear to be ghosts. The factory is now a theater for dozens of different moods, all with space to expand.

But let’s let the talented director Albert Moya give us a visual tour of the interior settings, and Bofill finish telling his story.

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