La fábrica Casaramona:
The Casaramona factory is a modernist building in the Art Nouveau ‘style’ designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch and built between 1909 and 1911/12 (dependent on source material). One of the first buildings to be constructed on the slopes of Montjuïc, it received first prize in 1912 for the annual city council contest of ‘Artistic Buildings of the City’ of Barcelona and was inaugurated in 1913.
Its original owner, Casimir Casaramona i Puigcercós, a cotton industrialist who specialised in the manufacture of blankets and towels, required a new building to replace his previous factory that had burnt down. He commissioned Josep Puig i Cadafalch, one of the most outstanding architects of ‘Catalan Modernism’.
Josep designed a ‘model’ electric powered factory using the traditional Catalan brick ‘horizontal’ construction system; the factory is made up of a set of predominantly single-storied buildings that, when in operation, facilitated the movement of goods through a system of ‘internal streets’, these of which also served as firebreaks. Two towers, the most modern at the time, break the ‘horizontal’ construction and served as water tanks for fire protection. Particular care was taken in both lighting and for the hygienic conditions of the workers; large windows, that opened and raised ceilings, helped to flood the buildings with light and air.
The overall brick design, in particular the facades and the undulating roof, together with wrought iron elements and a limited use of stone and ceramics (in the towers and in a mosaic with the name of the original owner) combine to make an overall symmetrical construction that is beautifully designed and pleasing on the eye.
1920’s to 1960’s
The building as a factory had a very short life; after the 1919 ‘General Strike’ the business collapsed and in 1920 closed its doors. The building served as warehouse for the International Exhibition of 1929 and then from 1940 housed the stables for the Spanish National Police force.
Centro Cultural CaixaForum
The “La Caixa” Foundation acquired the building in 1963. On the 9th of January 1976 it was declared to be of cultural interest and in 1992 the foundation decided to dedicate the space to the people of Barcelona. The site as a whole had degraded and it was decided to restore, modernize and adapt it for cultural and social uses.
A careful restoration, respecting the buildings architecture, materials, colors and techniques consisted of several phases:
- Consolidation and restoration; architect Francisco Javier Asarta, who specialised in modernism, was commissioned. The original external appearance, the decorative elements in stone, brick and iron were restored and the additions removed.
- Architects Roberto Luna and Robert Brufau collaborated to adapt the factory into exhibition halls and to créate a large underground hall, gaining 5,000 m² of space.
- New entrance, auditorium, the media library, the warehouses and the services (1999-2002). Arata Isozaki [a Japanese architect from Ōita] designed the monumental entrance structure of glass and steel, in the shape of a tree, and the courtyard made of pale marble, to reference the German Pavilion that Mies van der Rohe designed for the 1929 International Exhibition. The glass lining of the entrance is intended to create a sense of continuity between the underground lobby and the courtyard.
Today CaixaForum cultural centre comprises a fluid sequence between 3 exhibition spaces, a library, a cinema and a dedicated children’s activity area called Caixa Forum Kids. Additionally a permanent space is dedicated to Catalan Modernism, featuring inter-active displays enabling visitors to explore the old textile factory. The museum has a large collection of contemporary art which is on show in partial rotation throughout the year.
Address: Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, 08038 Barcelona
Image ref: plataformaarquitectura.cl, sies.tv, aviewoncities.com, inexhibit.com, oirealtor.com
Source ref: Wikipedia (Spanish and English sites), theculturetrip.com, gaudiallgaudi.com, barcelonalowdown.com