Fabra i Coats
Roldán & Berengué
Barcelona, Spain

The firm Roldán + Berengué gives the old Fabra i Coats textile plant in Barcelona’s San Andreu neighborhood a revamp, turning it into a social housing development strong on sustainability criteria. The building presents a 19th-century industrial style characterized by brick in abundance and a regular rhythm of large windows bringing in light.

Prominent among the elements preserved is the building envelope, which functions as thermal insulation. The 46 apartments inside are separated from the facade and the original tiled roof, and the spaces formed in between are places where residents can be neighborly and develop a community life. The double enclosure lets natural air circulate freely and makes artificial heating and cooling unnecessary during much of the year.

The structure emphasizes the longitudinality of the building, with 24 successive trusses marking a modular pace throughout. In an endeavor to acknowledge textile manufacturing processes, different kinds of wood are used in the construction of a system that can be taken apart in the future: a metaphor for stitching and unstitching. If there were 2 stories, now there are 3, thanks to wood being five times lighter than steel, and to the reuse of the two original floors.

Original elements of the old factory shed highlight the heritage of the textile industry. The apartments interact with a cultural facility thanks to a scheme thought out, through shared use of spaces, to foster a trading of ideas between artists and residents.

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