The Caixaforum Barcelona is a cultural center in Barcelona, whose historic building was recently renovated after a design by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.
Located at the foot of the Montjuic hill, the Caixaforum, along with being one of the most popular cultural centers in Barcelona, is an excellent example of the combination of historic and modern architecture into a coherent ensemble. The building complex we see today is the result of an ambitious renovation project, completed in 2002 after a design by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, promoted by the Obra Social La Caixa which administers seven other similar centers in Spain.
The current home of Caixaforum Barcelona once was an unconventional industrial building, the Fábrica Casaramona.
The factory was designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, one of the masters of Catalan modernism, following a commission by industrialist Casimir Casaramona i Puigcercós.
Completed in 1911, the old building complex, combining the elaborate architecture typical of the Modernisme movement with that of an industrial plant for the production of textiles, was immediately recognized as a masterpiece.
Yet, the factory closed in 1919 and its building stood idle for decades; thereafter, it was first used as a warehouse and then as a police station, In 1963, La Caixa Foundation acquired it and eventually took the decision to convert the whole complex into a contemporary cultural venue.
Japanese architect Arata Isozaki was commissioned to design the building renovation.
The project by Isozaki, along with a complete restoration of the old brick and steel building, included the creation of a new underground entrance wing.
A clearly contemporary architecture, the new extension was nevertheless carefully designed to adapt to the preexisting modernist building.
The materials used – glass, steel, and pale marble – and the clean geometric forms conceived by Isozaki create an intriguing visual dialog with the warm-colored, exuberant architecture of Puig i Cadafalch’s historic building.
The Caixaforum Barcelona consists of a fluid sequence of exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, offices, and workshops, located on three levels, which alternate to open-air courtyards.
The complex resembles more a small town than a traditional building. On the upper floor, the visitors have access to a large roof terrace, from which they can get a 360-degree panoramic view on the entire complex, and fully appreciate the two iconic brick towers of the center.
One of the most lively cultural centers in Barcelona, the Caixaforum accommodates four spaces for temporary exhibitions dedicated to various forms of art, and also includes two permanent galleries: the CaixaLab Experience +12, a multimedia and interactive learning space mostly aimed to young people, and the Espacio Modernista a gallery which presents the history of the Fabrica Casamona building as an example of Barcelona’s Art-Nouveau architecture.
The program of events of Caixaforum Barcelona comprises exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, educational activities, conferences, concerts, and live performances.
The center, which is fully accessible to physically impaired people, also contains a cinema/auditorium and a cafe-restaurant.
Drawings via Plataforma Arquitectura
All photos © Inexhibit
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