In this first stage, the catalogue focuses on the modern and contemporary architecture designed and built between 1832 –year of construction of the first industrial chimney in Barcelona that we establish as the beginning of modernity– until today.
The project is born to make the architecture more accessible both to professionals and to the citizens through a website that is going to be updated and extended. Contemporary works of greater general interest will be incorporated, always with a necessary historical perspective, while gradually adding works from our past, with the ambitious objective of understanding a greater documented period.
The collection feeds from multiple sources, mainly from the generosity of architectural and photographic studios, as well as the large amount of excellent historical and reference editorial projects, such as architectural guides, magazines, monographs and other publications. It also takes into consideration all the reference sources from the various branches and associated entities with the COAC and other collaborating entities related to the architectural and design fields, in its maximum spectrum.
Special mention should be made of the incorporation of vast documentation from the COAC Historical Archive which, thanks to its documental richness, provides a large amount of valuable –and in some cases unpublished– graphic documentation.
The rigour and criteria for selection of the works has been stablished by a Documental Commission, formed by the COAC’s Culture Spokesperson, the director of the COAC Historical Archive, the directors of the COAC Digital Archive, and professionals and other external experts from all the territorial sections that look after to offer a transversal view of the current and past architectural landscape around the territory.
The determination of this project is to become the largest digital collection about Catalan architecture; a key tool of exemplar information and documentation about architecture, which turns into a local and international referent, for the way to explain and show the architectural heritage of a territory.
We kindly invite you to help us improve the dissemination of Catalan architecture through this space. Here you can propose works and provide or amend information on authors, photographers and their work, along with adding comments. The Documentary Commission will analyze all data. Please do only fill in the fields you deem necessary to add or amend the information.
The Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya is one of the most important documentation centers in Europe, which houses the professional collections of more than 180 architects whose work is fundamental to understanding the history of Catalan architecture. By filling this form, you can request digital copies of the documents for which the Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya manages the exploitation of the author's rights, as well as those in the public domain. Once the application has been made, the Arxiu Històric del Col·legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya will send you an approximate budget, which varies in terms of each use and purpose.
This façade faces to the sea of Barcelona. This plan not only contemplated infrastructure operations but the possibility of building homes and some services by demolishing a large area of old factories.
The most important building operation was, without a doubt, the Olympic Village that came to restore a certain urban continuity between the city and the Poblenou district, recovering the historical thread interrupted when Barcelona decided to abandon the sea and grow perpendicularly towards the interior.
At the same time, the plan accommodated a private housing development on three blocks occupied by the Torras Herrerías y Construcciones industry with a dual purpose; on the one hand, two of the three blocks had to accommodate the Olympic referees during the games and, on the other, due to the neighbourhood with the area of the Olympic Village, this operation had to facilitate the reconversion process urban area of the rest of Poblenou.
The architect Carlos Ferrater and his team of collaborators obtained the commission after the resolution of a restricted competition between several architects. His project entered the general process of realisations that needed to be completed by 1992 and represented the exceptional opportunity to rebuild in a single operation three blocks of Cerdà’s Eixample previously occupied exclusively by factory buildings.
The area of the three blocks, aligned with each other and parallel to the coastline, is delimited by Llull and Ramón Turró Streets and, towards the mountain, by Zamora and Ávila Streets; a group whose promoters named Maritime Eixample in reference to the persistent traces of Cerdà's urbanisation and its proximity to the sea. Only the one adjacent to Zamora Street could not be rebuilt in its entirety due to the presence of industrial buildings belonging to other owners. The popular Can Torras dels Ferros, as we have already seen, was one of the most important metallurgical industries in Barcelona. The industrial process consisted of iron casting, rolling and construction of structures for the building, boilers, railway material, etc... A special narrow-gauge railway joined these processes crossing the streets and another of normal width connected the factory with the route from France to Granollers.
The carried out project contains 560 homes of different sizes and types; commercial premises on the ground floor, some offices and a shopping centre. The three blocks have a uniform architectural treatment and are linked by a tree-lined promenade that crosses its inner gardens roughly where the railway lines once did. A swimming pool has also been included in the garden of one of the three blocks. They are built on their perimeter but the built bar is interrupted by the aforementioned promenade and by passages located in front of the Ramón Turró pedestrian crossings, which separate the chamfers and configure them as apparently taller buildings. The lower floors are transparent so that you can see the interior vegetation from the street and allow access to the interior of the blocks from several points. We could say that it constitutes the closest example of what Cerdà proposed as an alternative to that suffocated Industrial Barcelona within the walls built to this day.
When these lines are printed, it will maybe still be possible to see the exhibition on the illustrious urban planner held in the barracks buildings that Pompeu Fabra University plans to occupy. The citizen of Barcelona has at hand a golden opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings and increase their capacity for critical judgment about the city; in other words, to increase their civil culture. Earlier we summarised the dual vocation that Barcelona showed to develop on its plain represented schematically by two perpendicular directions.
At first, the neoclassical façade from Montjuic to the Ciutadella park and the Old Cemetery was built, a frustrated development that could have taken the axis of the Gran Via as the backbone of a growth parallel to the coastline. Following Cerdà's scheme with another tendency, as a second and correlative act, it effectively grows on the perpendicular of the sea and a city is produced whose façade is split on an axis, identifying itself with its own façades of Passeig de Gràcia.
We could do a simple critical exercise and compare the characteristic block that built the fabric of the bourgeois Eixample and then its lateral extensions, with the one that a century later could be built on the same urban plan but in that marshland territory which was destined to receive the cemetery, the railway, the factories and the industrial proletariat. In short, we could say that the history of the Eixample’s construction coincides with the process of densification of the blocks to the point that it leaves no trace of any space inside that could be considered free or with any civil significance. The typical block has a side of 113 metres, with chamfers of 20 metres, which is also the width of ordinary streets.
In the built-up area, the neighbours' houses reach an average depth of 28 metres, so that once the crown is subtracted there are 57 metre yards, therefore, with a surface of 3249 m2. But almost all these patios are also built on the ground floor, and their soil is made up of the roofs of warehouses, garages or workshops, so the little soil that may be there would have to be found in the planters.
From above, a block looks like a patchwork, a piece made from the patches of built-up plots. It is rare to see a tree and at best the inner courtyard retains some regularity. The block is therefore a solid and massive prism, intransitive with respect to the street, the result of a consideration of the city as a pure commodity, of a petty and usurious attitude that hypocritically sought to redeem itself with the alibi that could lend him the beauty of a few works, in particular that of modernist architects. Magnificent sarcasm if we consider the discomfort these architects had when seeing their buildings reduced to simple decorative façades, and let’s also remember that Gaudí, one of the most praised, ended up begging for alms in the streets. However, we believe that despite this congestion and this alignment the Eixample has not lost its potential qualities. The greed of many has not been able to cope with the generosity of a few (Cerdà, Gaudí...).
Let's compare these data with those of the project we are discussing. Here, the built-up depth is 12.70 metres, so the houses have two façades and no interior courtyard. The inner courtyard of the block then has 87 metres on a side and 7569 m2 of surface and is landscaped. The two-storey shopping centre is the only building built inside one of the blocks. The free area, therefore, contains more than twice the surface area of the block of the historic Eixample, and the courtyard is, moreover, completely regular. The streets that remain between the blocks retain the basilica section of three naves, with 5-metre sidewalks, extended by a 3-metre porch and are visually and for pedestrians connected to the interior gardens. The distances from each house to the neighbours opposite are of 80 metres in the gardens and 20 metres in the streets. From inside the houses you can see the trees in both spaces.
We could complete these quantitative data with a short subjective description from the perspective given by the inhabitant of this place. There is a placid but dynamic neighbourhood relationship. The commercial equipment is not yet complete, but the most essential shops already exist. A wide area of sky is dominated, the brightness of dawn and sunset is perceived, and the passage of the day is marked by the presence of birds and the voices of children. The succession of the seasons is felt through the vegetation. In summer, the song of the cricket accompanies and does not wake you up. The garden generates an effective microclimate and a fauna consisting of seagulls, blackbirds, feathered mice, sparrows and woodpeckers visit us regularly. In certain periods, the silence turns into delight and the relationship with the patio of the small bedrooms reproduces the one that takes place between the cell and the cloister of the monastery. Encouraged, among other things, by the protective and ecological quality of the garden, it becomes a veritable demographic explosion, which provides a clue, in terms of urban planning, about the ecosystem that citizens need to repopulate Catalonia.
Still recognising that it falls into a certain idealisation in contrast to a Barcelona densely compressed by its own building, this example shows that a balanced model of urbanisation is possible, compatible with a reasonable real estate profit and without the need to make great inventions. Thus, a Poblenou rebuilt according to this pattern would not seem bad to us, where Cerdà's footprint persists; a monotonous Poblenou where the monotony consisted of the democratic repetition of the well-being of each individual, family or social group; in the recreation of a harmony between the built and the free, between the private and the public sphere, between staying and moving..., that harmony that Cerdà dreamed of as possible for the industrial city.