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P05. Residence at Fàbrica Can Descals
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Abstract

The project consists of adapting the ground floor of the Fàbrica Can Descals, designed by the noucentista architect Joan Roca Pinet, which was originally utilized for industrial purposes (1917) and later reconverted into an office space (1985), for residential use.
The aim is to clarify and reinforce the value of the building, with an intervention that recognizes its essential assets and updates them, the result of a dialogue between what it was originally and what it needed to be at the same time.

Credits

Location Olot (Spain)

Year 2018-20

Client Private

Photography Salva López

Type Housing

Status Built


The exterior’s woodwork is made of recovered timber and its characteristic green color is found throughout the rest of the house, in elements such as the kitchen furniture and the newly installed windows. The existing interior woodwork has been restored, modified (some has been enlarged, while other pieces have been joined or reduced) and repositioned to achieve new enclosures, new partitions and new private areas in a new use of the space, which goes from being a workplace to a family home.

The same pieces of terracotta that create the flooring throughout are used for the floor and wall tiles in the bathrooms, just as irregular and imperfect, but glazed here as a means to waterproof them. Recalling the glazed ceramic tiles that cover the characteristic and peculiar roof of the building , each bathroom of the house is completely laid with one of the three colors that compose it: yellow, green and blue. The tiles are separated from one another in the shower areas to ensure that the floor is not slippery.

All of them are natural materials that emphasize imperfection and the passage of time.
The cabinets and kitchen have also been designed and the lighting, furniture and textiles have been chosen meticulously.

The foyer of the building is seen as an extension of the house. It has been cleaned, the meter box has been designed and the interior flooring has been extended. Despite being a communal space, it takes on the role of the house’s entrance, where photos and historical design plans , found in the Arxiu Comarcal de la Garrotxa, are placed.

A NEW LIFE RESPECTING THOSE OF THE PAST
Faced with the challenge of working in a historic building, the remodel manages to recover the essence of the original space. The result is a residence that, in appearance, could have always been here, but never was; with some materials that already were there, and others that could have been; and with a configuration that could have been, but never was, due to the reality that the use had never been required. It is a residence compatible with the principles and compositional assets of the building and its original architecture.

Certain essential assets are thus returned to the building and are now reinforced, the result of a dialogue between what it was originally and what it needed to be at the same time.

Memory
The Fàbrica Can Descals (1917) is one of the most representative works of Joan Roca Pinet, a Catalan noucentista architect whose work is clearly influenced by that of Rafael Masó. Originally a cured meats factory , the building reflects the history of domestic architecture with roof overhangs, glazed ceramics and wrought iron, all of which are elements that contribute to its position in the catalogue of local cultural heritage buildings in Olot.

The project (2018-2020) consists of adapting the ground floor, which was originally utilized for industrial purposes (1917) and later reconverted into an office space (1985), for residential use, taking into account that some unrelated interventions over the years had stripped the space of its character and hidden or denied certain relevant architectural assets.

RESPECT FOR THE PAST
The best way to preserve and value heritage is to learn from it and respect it; to live with it and conserve it.

In this sense, the project seeks to clarify and reinforce the value of the building, to recover its character through modifications and solutions, some invisible, others more perceptible, in order to be able to inhabit the space in a contemporary way, in addition to complying with the parameters of energy efficiency, comfort and habitability required today. Living in Can Descals becomes unique and singular.

New uses entailed, not least, new openings in the exterior walls , which were carried out after a thorough study of the original composition of the building. The exterior walls were protected under its status as a local cultural heritage site, and the intervention had to be very respectful. Some holes were opened and others were closed , and the excess stones that had been taken from openings were reutilized by closing other holes with them. Centuries-old stones didn’t disappear, but instead were relocated.

RECOVERING ESSENTIAL VALUES
The interior was developed in the same way, although, unlike the exterior, it was not protected. The value for us did not rest only in those elements which were specifically designated by the local catalogue of heritage sites. Everything in the house is designed with respect for the building and seeks to connect the past with the near future through the complex exploration of simplicity (essentiality) in all stages of the project (programmatic, spatial and material phases).

A programmatic simplicity that sought to find the ideal position of each component of the house so that the relationship between the components and their relationship with the light would enhance the spatial quality of the house: two communicating or separate rooms for two siblings; a bathroom at the end of the corridor that does not block, but introduces light into it; a master bedroom with its own bathroom that opens out to the garden independently; a living-dining room which offers wide views of the outside, and a main door of the building (which was previously walled in) that accesses the kitchen and living room (formerly a street-interior connection that had been impractical for years). The spaces flow, one after the other, diverse, to be discovered and lived in.

A spatial simplicity that sought to eliminate layers, recovering the height of the spaces after dismantling all the false ceilings and installations of previous stages, and leaving the Catalan vault structure of the ceilings visible again, integrating all the installations into the flooring and cupboards.

A material simplicity that is taken to the limit by using only terracotta and wood in the intervention:

The terracotta that originally covered the floor of the naves, which no longer exist, is returned to the space in the form of small handmade tiles that are placed with different cuttings depending on the room in which they are located. These pieces of terracotta, irregular and imperfect, not only evoke the traditional characteristic terracotta floors of factories and farmhouses in the area, but work together with the underfloor heating installation to make the heating of the space as comfortable as possible. Recovering the factory look without sacrificing home life and comfort.

PROGRAMMATIC SIMPLICITY
The ideal position of each component of the house was found so that the relationship between the components and their relationship with the light would enhance the spatial quality of the house: two communicating or separate rooms for two siblings; a bathroom at the end of the corridor that does not block, but introduces light into it; a master bedroom with its own bathroom that opens out to the garden independently; a living-dining room which offers wide views of the outside, and a main door of the building (which was previously walled in) that accesses the kitchen and living room (formerly a street-interior connection that had been impractical for years). The spaces flow, one after the other, diverse, to be discovered and lived in.

MATERIAL SIMPLICITY
The terracotta that originally covered the floor of the naves, which no longer exist, is returned to the space in the form of small handmade tiles that are placed with different cuttings depending on the room in which they are located. These pieces of terracotta, irregular and imperfect, not only evoke the traditional characteristic terracotta floors of factories and farmhouses in the area, but work together with the underfloor heating installation to make the heating of the space as comfortable as possible. Recovering the factory look without sacrificing home life and comfort.

RESPECT FOR THE PAST
The best way to preserve and value heritage is to learn from it and respect it; to live with it and conserve it.
In this sense, the project seeks to clarify and reinforce the value of the building, to recover its character through modifications and solutions, some invisible, others more perceptible, in order to be able to inhabit the space in a contemporary way, in addition to complying with the parameters of energy efficiency, comfort and habitability required today. Living in Can Descals becomes unique and singular.

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