Sunday, March 11, 2012

Casaramona Textile Factory (Caixa Forum)

My recent visit to the Codorniu cava factory reminded me of a bunch of other great architectural work by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. At Codorniu he had designed the building where there is now the reception, tasting, and shop areas as well as some other buildings spread around Catalunya. One of them is the Amateller House, which is, unfortunately, located next to the Casa Batllo on the Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona (left is Amatller and right is Batllo):

I say unfortunately because Casa Batllo is amazingly spectacular and gets all the attention while the Amateller House is "just" beautiful unless you spend the time to really see all its detail work. The building was renovated by Cadafalch around 1900 as the main residence of the Amatller family who (still) own a local chocolate company. It now houses Hispanic art collection and is worth at least a few minutes at a minimum to appreciate the outside...but...this story's about another Cadafalch building...

Located between the Olympic stadiums on Mont Juic and the Plaza España is probably one of the most beautiful factories ever built. Designed by Cadafalch in 1910 as the Casaramona Textile Factory, the building complex and towers is a "wow" example of Modernist (or Art Nouveau) architecture from the early 1900s Barcelona.

By the way, my photos for this story won't do the building justice as they were taken on a cloudy day.

The front of the complex faces Mont Juic and has metal and glass canopy: well as a very modern (and very white) "hidden garden" entrance that were added during the conversion to the Caixa Forum Museum in the 2000s:

I'm not crazy about the design of the canopy or the super modern entrance but the Caixa folks are really proud of it in all their materials. For me, it's just something to pass through on your way to get to check out the older parts of the complex. Once past the museum reception area you get to walk between and through the factory's original buildings.

The Casaramona factory was built to house a textile mill and incorporated many cutting edge at the time anti-fire measures because the owner's previous factory had burned down. My friend Pili, who's quite knowledgeable in fire prevention and propagation (seriously, she is an expert in this stuff), told me that the buildings were designed and spaced in such a way to reduce the likelihood of any fire that had started one area to spread to another area. Also, the two towers were actually large tanks that stored water to be used to fight any fires that broke out. You can see three different buildings and one of the water towers in this photo:

The factory's buildings were also designed to utilize (that newfangled) electric power, rather than coal or oil, and lots of natural light and ventilation. I especially like these skylights that allow light into the basement of the buildings:

I've been fortunate to have visited a bunch of textile mills all over the world and this one, by far, is the most beautiful. There are lots and lots of small details that make the whole complex lots of fun to see up close. For example, in this photo, you can see lots of ornate iron work, interesting curves and building elevations, as well as a cool chimney (the tan domed building in the background is part of the convention center across the street):

This mosaic, which shows Sant Jordi's dragon and a Catalan flag, along with its surrounding iron and brick work is extremely elaborate for "just" a textile factory:

The building was quite the hit in its day with the building itself as well as its architect winning several different awards at the time. Textile production at the factory lasted seven short years before the facility was closed down in the late 1920s. It was later used a warehouse and then as a combination police station and horse stable. It wasn't until right around the Barcelona Olympics that it was converted into its current use as the Caixa Forum museum:

One of my favorite things to do while visiting is to go up on the roof to see the bird's-eye view of the rest of the factory as well as the surrounding area. The roof, rather than being flat, has an undulating surface that's cool. I don't really have any good pictures of the roof or of its view so I decided to use this one from when Diana's mom and dad came from Colombia to visit us last spring and we were there:

The visit to Codorniu reminded me of so many other places in Barcelona that I've visited while living here. It's truly a spectacular and special city that has so much to see and do. The buildings and museum of the Caixa Forum are just another example.

Thanks again to Pili for the information about the building's fire prevention measures.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are reviewed prior to being posted.