Venice Biennale 2012: Catalan and Balearic Islands Pavilion

Restoration of Can Ribas Factory / Jaime J. Ferrer Forés; © José Hevia

This year’s Venice Biennale will kick off on August 29th and run through November 25th and for the first time, the Institut Ramon Llull will be presenting an exhibition dedicated to Catalan and Balearic architecture entitled “Vogadors”, featuring nine projects from nine different architects that epitomize the contemporary and avant-garde works from the regions. The exhibition is inspired by the Mediterranean Sea, which is the main geographical feature of the regions, and by the words of Jorge Oteiza, “He who forges ahead creating something new does so like an oarsman, moving forward but back-paddling, looking behind him, towards the past, towards what exists, so as to be able to reinvent its underpinnings.”

Follow us after the break to see the projects to be featured at the exhibit.

Venice Biennale 2012: Catalan and Balearic Islands Pavilion - More Images+ 9

The goal of the collected works of the exhibition is to show that architecture is not a linear production: ” not solely the automatic response to a situation of economic crisis.” It is a cultural and aesthetic expression based in intellectual, technical and social tradition. It gains momentum from the past to link and develop solutions to contemporary problems. The projects selected for this exhibition are an expression of a “sober” architecture. Simple materials, intellectual and technical sophistication, strong social, ethical and cultural components, and traditional values develop into an architecture that finds a continuation between generations and can become timeless.

The guidelines by which these projects were selected were:

  • Place and meaning: Architecture that is inspired by local values and that is closely related to its site.
  • Ethics and proximity: Architecture developed in collaboration with the inhabitants with the goal of making it personalized and comfortable.
  • Permeable Materiality: Architecture that is a built work, using materials that are natural and fundamental to building.
  • Research and Criticism: Architecture that expresses the ability to experiment and innovate focused on the relationship between the material and people without intermediaries.
  • Essence and Tradition: Architecture that emphasizes an economy and resources and shows restraint in formal approaches to emphasize experience, material and tradition.

Collage House | Bosch.Capdeferro Arquitectures

Collage House / Bosch . Capdeferro Arquitectures; © José Hevia

“Collage House” is the renovation of an old building sandwiched between two other structures. Respecting the old materials in order to express the passage of time, “working very carefully not to erase previous tracks”, the architects worked existing materials into new elements. Parapets on the exterior stairway, the stone walls of the interior and the rolling blinds are new parts of the architecture composed of the old building structure. The term “collage” owes itself to the reuse and reappropriation of materials within the house, picking up an essence of the old and infusing it into a new experience.

House in Bunyola | Francisco Cifuentes

House in Bunyola / Francisco Cifuentes; © José Hevia

House in Bunyola pays close attention to the use of simple materials that are directly related to the site.  Materials that are found on the land or relate to the typography are modest and essential: thermal clay bricks, cement joists, and pine windows.  It situated so as to relate to both geographical and social elements in its proximity:  the town and valley of Bunyola and the stone walls and underlying rock.  Two volumes, each distinct in character and use, are defined by exterior openings and the way in which they intersect.

Nursery School in Pratdip | Núria Salvadó and David Tapias

Nursery School in Pratdip / Núria Salvadó and David Tapias; © José Hevia

The nursery in Pratdip is located on the outskirts of a village that has a tradition of spontaneous, self-built architecture that uses materials from its surroundings: limestone, iron and ceramic.  This project recalls this tradition, setting a dialogue between the surroundings, the typography, and the place.  A concrete wall that follows the topography of the site serves as the support for the programs.  This gives the nursery an open courtyard that is sheltered from the wind and is open to the sun.

Home for three sisters in Bullas | Blancafort Reus Arquitectura

Home for Three Sister in Bullas / Blancafort Reus Arquitectura; © David Frutos

This home is designed with the needs of its inhabitants in mind: a home integrated with the landscape and tradition of the area, respectful of the environment and full of nooks for enjoying a bucolic life.  The home is designed to give each of the sisters her own unit thereby providing privacy for their individual families while upholding a sense of intimacy within the family.  The three houses are joined at a shared garden, olive grove and patio.   The materials and techniques for the construction of this house were simple and developed from the surrounding area.  The use of tiles and color in the interior brings comfort into the construction materials, which are simple and modest.

La Seca, Restoration of Barcelona’s mint as a cultural center of magic | Meritxell Inaraja

La Seca / Meritxell Inaraja; © Wenzel

The restoration of Barcelona’s Mint a a Cultural Center hinges on the need to integrate the historic elements and the desire to preserve the heritage of the project while adapting the building for its future use.  The building is located between party walls with a ground floor and two upper floors encircling a central courtyard or terrace and dates to the mid-17th century, although it retains some medieval structures.   The main elements and formal characteristics of the building are perserved in the restoration.  New elements such as a new stairway, an empty space that spans the entire height of the building and a bridge that connects the two wings of the building on the second floor are added.

Can Ribas, Restoration of the Can Ribas factory in Palma | Jaime J. Ferrer Forés

The Can Ribas Textile Factory was restored in its entirety as part of a catalyst for urban renewal in that area of Palma.  Part of the restoration involved removing elements that were added over the years that muddled the clarity of the factory’s original design.  The restored factory is intended for collective use, giving a sense of survival of urban elements within the city that be adapted to work within new contexts and with new uses.

Swimming pool, changing rooms and sports center in Tortosa | Arquitecturia

Sport Center in Tortosa / Arquitecturia; © Pedo Pegenaute

The Sports Center in Tortosa is located between the Canal de l’Ebre and the Barranc de la Vall Cervera.  The goal was to provide access to the pools within the center, removed from the road with views of the canal.  The center is set back from the road, allowing this to be an open area for outdoor activities.  Walls around the facility create a hollow space that blends the boundary of interior and exterior.  Metal and stone are the main materials and their patterning creates a repetition that ties all the elements of the facility together.

Expansion of IES Josep Sureda i Blanes in Palma | SMS arquitectos

Expansion of IES Josef Sureda / SMS arquitectos; © José Hevia

This project for the expansion of IES, a high school in Palma, is inspired by the desire to reduce its ecological footprint and giving the building a context outside of its location.  To acheive this, the architects chose from materials readily available on the island – those produced by the precast concrete industry.   The challenge was to explore the visual possibilities of the limited material available.  The  expansion of the high school is a literal continuation of the school.   It uses the existing structure to extend a new floor that, as a space, can have alternate uses than those initially planned by the expansion.

School of Art and Design in Amposta | David Sebastian and Gerard Puig

School of Art and Design in Amposta / David Sebastian and Gerard Puig; © Adrià Goula

The School of Art and Design called for two buildings, each with very different programs operating on two different scales.  THe first was a teaching facility for the school while the other was a fair pavilion that would replace the existing building on that site.  The sites for these two building are adjacent, seperated by a road.  Instead of designing two building, they were conceived as a combined whole.  The first phase was the construciton of the teaching facility featuring a multi-purpose room.  The second phase, the fair pavilion, is in its planning stages and will be integrated into the teaching facility.  The sectional typography of this building keeps an open system instead of a finished architectural work.  It allows it to adapt to different uses by the distinct programs.

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Cite: Irina Vinnitskaya. "Venice Biennale 2012: Catalan and Balearic Islands Pavilion" 23 Jul 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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