Text description provided by the architects. The place that was set to accommodate the extension and the whole environs of Can Baró conserved the charm of those areas in which diversity and certain lack of structure made a forceful, logical and meditated response necessary. The expansion thus emerged from the topography, as a continuity of it, seeking a fusion between the building and the public space, in such a way that the public space is not treated as something that appears between buildings but is integrated into the architecture itself, and the architectural space is something that can be found hidden or camouflaged within the topography.
The building responds to the surrounding environment, with a set of starting conditioning factors: the existing building and a great irregular void of complex geometry with considerable topographic unevenness. The new building, in its apparent formal complexity, can be simply summed up as a piece made according to the place’s measurement, built or modeled with what we cannot touch but instead perceive: light-shadow, empty-full, open-closed, warm -cold ...
The reform of Can Baró, building of the beginning of the twentieth century, protected in the catalog of historical and artistic heritage of the municipality, has been tackled in a integral manner, only conserving the facade enclosures. In terms of composition of the envelope the intervention is performed only when it’s absolutely necessary, and always meticulously, to return the building its rightful identity. The new roof and the skylight glasses, located therein, are converted into a large photovoltaic sensor.
By taking advantage of the powerful unevenness, the new extension shows itself as a continuity of the topography of the place; part of the roof is transformed into a horizontal carpet as an extension of the pavement space of the upper street, which is constituted into a public square. This square, which climbs the slope in a search for the best views, culminates at the highest point in an exceptional vantage point. From this point on, the building is not understood as a building but as the actual terrain that descends and is modeled to end up transformed into a space that houses the library programme. The roofs begin to break up, turning into the topography that descends in a search for dialogue and relations with the neighboring constructions. The play of roofs that rise, descend or break up in the mechanism that simultaneously allows the interior spaces to gain height and at the same time to filter and capture the natural light to illuminate the most interior spaces.
Inside, the double spaces will end up taking light to the spaces below. As for the skin, for the ground floor a glazed enclosure has been chosen in order to give transparency and announce what takes place inside, like in a show window. Further up the spaces only open up in very specific and controlled points, selectively seeking out the best views, permitting more secluded spaces that are suitable for reading, preserving both its own privacy and that of the surrounding buildings. Inside everything is articulated into sequences and spaces that change constantly in a simultaneous play of open plans, double spaces, high controlled visions and multiple inlets of light through the roof lights.
The interior furnishings project just reinforces architectural traces.
The new and the existing are related to each other, with the greatest respect, by analogy and contrast. The use of common materials in extension and reform, both inside and outside, and the use of the same formal and spatial language, have just joined and interrelated the two buildings.
The intervention also involves the development of the whole environment of the library, with clear pedestrian connectivity improvements.