Architects: Cristiano Franconi, Rodrigo González, Alessandro Scarnato
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Collaborators: Arnau Boix, Caterina Dominioni, Gonzalo Fernández, Mirko Usai
Area: 5,085 sqm
Photography: Courtesy of La Fotográfica
The fast growth that IED Barcelona has experimented since its arrival in 2002, has made necessary to move to a new building with more than 5000 m2 dedicated to training and investigation on design. Architectural works, performed by Franconi Gonzalez Architects studio, in collaboration with the studio ProA Solutions, is the result of rebuilding and rehabilitating of the former textile mill Macson in Barcelona.
The new Higher School of Design is composed by four levels that integrate the values and benefits of Design for All, aiming to stimulate the creative experimentation and the dialogue between users and disciplines. The building dedicates 610 m2 to wide and flexible spaces, distributed between the first and the top floor, which facilitate the collective work between students and professors. The rest of the building also accommodates offices, classrooms and specialized workshops for each training area in Fashion, Design, Visual Communication and Management for Creative Industries.
The total sum of money invested is 4.500.000 € fragmented in 5 phases since 2008. A self-financed acquisition made without depending on bank loans thanks to the planning of a progressive occupation system of these new spaces during the last three years.
This intervention preserves and integrates the industrial character of the building, a textile mill built in 1952 at Barcelona’s district of Gràcia (Biada, 11). The original structure, the building’s industrial look and its functionalism are reflected on wide and bright spaces such as the 380m² Open Space, the fashion workshops coinciding with the original factory workshops, and the thinner walls and high ceilings showing the former building.
The distribution and the access to the new seat have its origin in the former area for loading and unloading, main element of the construction which acquires an architectural dimension through organizing multiple geometrical levels. Its design, finished in pine treated wood, is characterized by a set of ramps and stairs supported on a 240 m2 metallic grid construction, organized around the central ramp. Moreover, it solves in an original way the existing change in elevation between the street and the reception. This new courtyard offers different options to access the school, from different points, a metaphorical reflection of the learning process of each student.
Each part of the building promotes the relation between its different parts and users. The courtyard invites the students to entry the hall with a delicate fluency obtained by multiple elements. On one hand, the reduction on the amount of walls between indoors and outdoors, thanks to the glazed entrances that also favour the natural lighting and visual continuity; on the other hand, the perception of correspondence between the courtyard’s floor, the hall’s ceiling and the offices with translucent walls that can be perceived at the bottom.
The original fabric supposed multiple problems for its reuse because of the isolation of certain parts of the construction, which prevented fluency and continuity with the rest of spaces. The incorporation of new interior and emergency staircases solve the communication problems between the offices floors, outdated in comparison to the rest of the building. The emergency stair, in addition to being a service element, becomes protagonist in the courtyard.
Practical work is a key issue in training at IED, and that’s the reason why 752 m2 are aimed to workshops or laboratories adapted for each area. The workshops focused on training of transportation design, interior or product design are located at the upper story, to facilitate ventilation and natural lighting: a privileged location to bring out the relevance of experimentation. The set and medialabs are at the building’s basement, which was dedicated to storage, because natural lighting is not needed, but they all are distributed by glazed walls to transmit fluency and prevent a labyrinthine space.
Most of the lighting elements in the school belong to the Italian firm Artémide.
The construction of the new seat has been a challenge for architects, students, professors and employees who have worked together in different projects during the building’s conception. Architects confirm that to dialogue with students and executives has been a key to detect the needs of an innovative and modern Higher School of Arts.