Architecture for culture

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Building for the new headquarters of the Filmoteca de Catalunya in the Raval, Barcelona.

José Luis Mateo, arquitecto

Description Technical file

This building, which is intended for housing the Filmoteca de Catalunya, the Catalan art-house film venue, reflects clearly and subtly the ambivalence of its own existence by reflecting the power of its contemporary presence within the touchstone framework of an urban grid that is typical of the historic centre.
The Filmoteca de Catalunya is located in the historic district of El Raval, in Barcelona, an area that in recent years has been undergoing an important process of transformation and modernisation but that continues to conserve its harbour character: dense, popular and sometimes even stifling.

The relationship with the surroundings is a determining factor in the building’s volume and the project has therefore worked to its scale, permitting the formal relationship with its neighbours. As a consequence, the screening rooms have been placed underground. Moreover, the ground floor has been treated as a passage space for the users of the Filmoteca, connecting calle Espalter with plaza Salvador Seguí, which opens up in front of the building like a new urban element bringing light and space to the area. The building compresses the existing narrow and complex structures and, to compensate, its lateral facades offer a new and welcoming space formed from a series of different porches protected by the cantilever of the forgings.

The exposed concrete walls-beams that build the façade, while highly diverse, are from the family of the rickety neighbouring walls that, through the flaking, show their original central mass. Above the wall filters are juxtaposed in the manner of a cinematic metaphor, but not only conceptually; above all physically, sensitively. In the old district, with very close proximity between buildings, interaction must be measured and filtered and this occurs through a variety of devices with vague cinematic references.

The building has been conceived as a suite of filters and screens, both exterior and interior. While in its relationship with the exterior a series of patterns have been developed, made from wire and perforated sheet metal, that filter the natural light and give privacy to its occupants, who can see without being seen, in the interior (in the upper floors) the use of filters can also be seen, in the manner of coloured glass screens that divide the space and, as with the filters and diaphragms used in film cameras, control the intensity and colour of the natural light.

It could be said that the architectural space of the Filmoteca is manifested through two movements accompanied by two courtyards: he descent to the darkness of the cinemas and the ascent towards the light, towards the working spaces.

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Autor: Josep Lluís Mateo. Emplazamiento: Barcelona. Cliente: ICIC (Institut Català de les Indústries Culturals). Estructura: BOMA, Agustí Obiol. Instalaciones: Grupo JG. Presupuesto: Tram. Protección contra incendios: Francesc Labastida. Constructora: Emcofa. Fotografía: Adrià Goula.
Josep Lluís Mateo
Adrià Goula