Architecture – The El Roser Social Centre project respects and recovers the original building, “revealing its structure and the construction typology of the time, previously concealed, in order to evoke an image of austerity.” Explained Josep Ferrando Architecture and Gallego Arquitectura.
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Listed as a Cultural Asset of Local Interest and included in the Inventory of Architectural Heritage of Catalonia, the new facility comprises a shelter for the homeless, a soup kitchen and a community space. The prison, built in 1929, was transformed into a school in 1979. This earlier intervention was taken as the basis for a project in which the various time strata dialogue with each other.
The El Roser Social Centre “works at different scales, establishing a dialectic between the new more ethereal, light, tectonic elements, and the composition and mineral materials of the heavier existing structure.” The geometry of the H-shaped floor plan laid out around two courtyards is given new openings to create lines of sight and a Palladian-style permeability that marks the end of closed spaces.
The prison’s original entrance was from the street via a monumental doorway with minimum pavement space. The architects eliminated the wall around the yard of the prison building, turning it into a public space, open to the city, that lets passers-by recognise the facility by the continuity of its façades.
A slender steel structure is a gesture that recalls the now-absent wall while threading together three different historical periods. In turn, the conservation of the monumental doorway bears witness to the missing wall and enhances the facility’s heritage value.
At a more domestic scale, elements such as windows and wet areas are introduced at a tangent, reinforcing the idea of palimpsest. The interpretation, functioning and routes around the building’s interior are reassessed, as they are at the urban level, changing its relationship with the immediate environment.
All photos by Adrià Goula – Courtesy of Josep Ferrando Architecture.