Adventures in Barcelona

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Our office trip this year took us on an exploration of Barcelona. Sala Beckett by Flores and Prats became a key case study.

The former social club has been transformed into an International Drama Centre including two exhibition spaces, classrooms for reading and writing drama texts, and a restaurant open to the neighbourhood. The architectural approach steered away from restoration, offering a reinterpretation of the spaces through adaptive re-use. The project blurs the lines between old and new elements. Colour is used with confidence to define the character of each space.

“The ruinous state in which we encountered was of interest, not because we wanted to restore it, but rather to take the ruin forward and make it a participant, with its unfinished character of superimposed periods, in a new reality that would continue to be updated on this foundation. (...) The challenge of the project is therefore to adapt the building to its new use without banishing its ghosts.” Ricardo Flores and Eva Prats.

The existing building is altered to create new relationships between the spaces, similar to the work of artist Gordon Matta Clark. The brick of the jack arched ceiling is removed to reveal the steel structure and establish new visual connection. The location of the stair has changed through the buildings development creating voids and doorways to nowhere. The layering of an accumulation of wall finishes over the years has been displayed throughout the building. This is contrasted with the smooth frames created around the windows in the restaurant.

From 2011 to 2015, Barcelona invested €133 million towards the renovation of 25 of the city’s 43 existing markets. We visited the Mercado de La Boqueria located off La Rambla and Mercado de Santa Caterina. The market experience offers something greater than aquisition of fresh food but a key space for social interaction and community integration.

We took advantage of the city's cycle infrastructure to explore the Sant Marti district.