Rejuvenating life into some buildings in Spain: Adaptive reuse

Architecture in Spain

  • Spanish architecture progressed a similar way as the architecture in the Mediterranean and from Northern Europe.
  • There are many heritage sites declared by UNESCO in Spain.
  • Architecture in Spain was mainly dominated by the Romans.
  • Spain as a country saw all whether it would be Romanesque, Baroque or Renaissance Architecture. Thus the remains still visible in the modern cities too.
  • In an attempt to retain the architectural history of the city, adaptive reuse fuses the old building with a new function and preserves the city’s identity.
  • The architectural revival of many buildings has been accomplished in Spain till now, with some being practised by renowned architectural firms converting them from trash to treasure.

what is adaptive reuse?

Adaptive Reuse Architecture is the method to keep the architecture of our old times revived in us. some of the best sustainable practised examples of adaptive reuse of industrial buildings from Spain are detailed below in the article.

Image Credits: Fernando Alda

Contemporary Art Space in Madre de Dios by Sol89

  • Contemporary Art Space is one unique example of Adaptive Reuse in Spain. The conversion of an old convent into a beautiful space. The project arises from a reflection on the creative process in contemporary art, its unpredictable condition, and the current dissolution of limits between the space of production and exhibition.
  • Mostly in countries like New York making graffiti is an expression of contemporary art is where artists also demolished some facings of walls in this project.
  • The contemporary exhibition space shouldn’t be projected like a static room in time but like a never-ending space in ellipsis, waiting for each exhibition come for completing it.

Planning & material usage:

  • A temporary display was set up in the barn to make sure the sufficient entry of light in the space.
  •  The walls and ceiling will be covered by slats of wood, the separation between them will allow seeing the original brick walls, showing the textures of the bricks and the wounds caused by centuries that we have discovered in this first phase, that narrate time builds too.
  • At the same time, this wooden structure overlapped to the ancient walls will allow access to all installations in any point of space.

Studio 1700 by Nordest Arquitectura

A 180-year-old barn was converted into a beautiful workspace keeping its old strong walls intact in the medieval town of Palau-Sauter, Girona in Spain.

A simple square geometrical plan emphasized by old walls.

Its exact construction date is unknown, but the earliest record of the building dates from 1838. The barn was in working condition up until 2016 as an agricultural storage.

Nordest Arquitectura took over the barn, which had already been converted once into holiday apartments to outgrow their previous office.

“Our intervention does the opposite. We try to respect all the original building elements, showing them off to the maximum possible and accepting the modified parts during the life of the building, keep the ones that are useful and deleting the ones that can’t be useful for the new use of the building,” said Nordest Arquitectura.

Elxterior view of “Studio 1700 by Nordest Arquitectura”
Image Credits: Filippo Poli, Arch Daily

Satisfying the conditions of adaptive reuse of buildings & reuse of building materials

The project tries to respect all the original building elements, showing them the maximum possible and accepting the modified parts during the life of the building, keep the once that are useful, and delete the once that can’t be useful for the new use of the building i.e. reuse of the building materials was the main strategy.

The renovation and its materialization dialogues with the original materials through the contrast and the overlaying of the new materials that make up the different spaces that form the needs program of the new office.

Spatial Planning:

The spaces organization and its distribution dwelled upon in the space give justice to the old barn structure which justified the design to its almost perfect sense.

  • A tall, arched glass-and-timber door to mark the designated entrance to space.
  • As per its use, the ground floor is meant to be public space which consists of a reception space and multi-use waiting area.
  • The meeting area on the left constructed with glass in wooden frames gives a sense of closed yet openness with the correct usage of material.
  • A cross-shaped corridor runs between this room, the bathroom, and a kitchen. The fourth corner of the plan is occupied by a semi-open office, separated by wooden partition shelves.
  • Upstairs, the entire floor is an open-plan office with walls lined by more wooden shelves. Stairs continue to a small storage room under the eaves of the gently sloping roof.
  • All the furniture, tables, and shelves are made with the same materiality.
  • The service zone like (kitchen, storage, clothes cupboards …) are given a designated identity hiding in the voids between wooden walls in the space.
  • Nordest Arquitectura chose the same pale timber for all the built-in furniture as they used for the walls.  The same wood was used for the front door, although the exterior was blackened by burning to make it blend in with the old facade.

MATERIALS and elements:

The materials’ choice as understood is highly difficult decision to make in case of restoring any historic structure. for the sake of architectural CONSERVATION, architects always try to find the nearest material possible to revive the historic nature in this kind of buildings.

  • The ceilings painted in white try to lighten up the dead space.
  • The stone from the barn was kept as it is to give a sense of earthy and raw nature to space.
  • Reddish ceramic tiles, the closest to the ones already used in the building were chosen for the staircase.
  • The staircase also has a simple rope balustrade to match nature.
  • The intervention is solved using a few materials beyond the existing ones. The original stone is shown as it is in the final outcome of the design with plastering some parts of walls and ceilings where it wasn’t shown
  • Concrete pavement composed of some joints to mark the rawness in the space.
  • Wooden walls were used to balance the heaviness of the stone barn walls.
  • The project has solved all the interactions between different materials, in between the old and the new, using joints.

As an architect or an architecture student, i would suggest we all should pledge to revive at least one adaptive reuse architectural building in our careers which might help a little in giving back to the mother earth.