From workers’ cooperative to Civic Center: the Lleialtat Santsenca building in Barcelona

Place: Barcelona, Country: Spain
Architectural Design: H Arquitectes
Lleialtat Santsenca Civic Center, Barcelona
adaptive reuse project developed by H Arquitectes
Images: see captions

Lleialtat-Santseca-interior-view-cover

From workers’ cooperative to Civic Center: the Lleialtat Santsenca building in Barcelona

Once the seat of a working-class cooperative in Barcelona’s Sants neighborhood, just west of Placa d’Espagna, the Lleialtat Santsenca is a 19th-century building which has been restored and converted into a Civic Center for the local community.

A brief history of Lleialtat Santsenca
Founded by fifteen people in 1894, when Sants was an independent village, the Lleialtat Santsenca cooperative grew over time and, in 1924, moved to a two-story building at the intersection of Olzinelles and Altafulla streets.
Designed by architect Josep Alemany and built on funds from the cooperative’s members, the building housed a food shop, storerooms and a bakery on the ground floor, while the upper floor accommodated a cafe, a boardroom, a small theater, administrative offices, and a library.

Lleialtat Santsenca-Barcellona-ante recupero

Civic Centre Lleialtat Santsenca: exterior view before the works

Renovation project and transformation into a civic center
The adaptive reuse project, developed by architecture firm H Arquitectes, was conceived to save as much of the original structure as possible.
The transformation into a civic center complied with a number of demands by the local community that, due to the lack of social spaces in the Saints neighborhood, requested the restoration of the historical building to be combined with the creation of a community center.
Therefore, the architects devised a design strategy aimed to take advantage of the original spaces and structures, to increase the potential uses of those spaces, to establish a strong relationship with the context, and to create a sustainable building.
The Lleialtat Santsenca redevelopment has been included in the jury shortlist for the 40 best projects of the EU Mies Award 2019.

The building comprises three structural bodies: the main one on Olzinelles and Altafulla streets, the central one with access from Altafulla street; and the interior one.
The “fulcrum” of the new civic center consists of a sequence of voids which connects the restored spaces and the newly-built ones. The voids merge into a central atrium enclosed by “new” facades, and “old” walls which show traces of the past history of the building.
The atrium brings daylight and natural ventilation while, at the same time, it is the main axis of horizontal and vertical circulation, and offers a new potential of use for a wide range of special events and activities.
Of the existing roof, only the trusses were maintained while three new gable roofs were built. Fastened to a metal structure, the roof covering was made in cellular polycarbonate to the south and with insulated metal sheets to the north; natural ventilation is provided by a number of roof windows, installed in the upper part of the atrium, which contribute to the convective flow of air from bottom to top; overall, the whole building features passive thermal regulation systems based on inertia and insulation.

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Civic Centre Lleialtat Santsenca: exterior view

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Civic Centre Lleialtat Santsenca. Above, from top to bottom: axonometric scheme, ground floor plan and section (before and after the works)

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Centro-Civico-Lleialtat-Sans-Barcellona-v-02

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Civic Centre Lleialtat Santsenca, interior views.

images courtesy of EU MIES AWARD 2019. Photos: Adrià Goula

Centre Cívic Lleialtat Santsenca (Civic Centre Lleialtat Santsenca) Barcelona
Client: BIMSA
Year completed: 2017 (Year began 2014)
Studio: H ARQUITECTES – David Lorente, Josep Ricart, Xavier Ros, Roger Tudó
Total area: 678 m2 | Usable floor area:1968 square meters


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