Architecture for culture


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Rehabilitation of La Seca for the Joan Brossa Scenic Space in Barcelona

Meritxell Inaraja i Genís, arquitecta

Description Technical file

This rehabilitation undertaken on the old building of “La Seca”, in Barcelona, succeeds in its programme objective of attaining a harmonious sum of tradition and modernity to harmonise history and heritage with the contemporary nature of the scenic arts.

The “la Seca” building takes its name from the Seca Real or Royal Mint of the Crown of Aragon. The word “seca” has its origins in the Arabic word sekka, which means "a place where coins are made". The old Mint of Barcelona occupied several buildings situated between today’s calle de la Seca and calle Flassaders, in Barcelona’s Ribera district, and minted coins in a discontinuous manner from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The building that has been rehabilitated, situated on calle de Flassaders, no. 40, formed part of this complex and, while featuring 18th-century vestiges, its principal structures date from the 17th century. When the factory fell into disuse the building was again transformed and occupied by dwellings in the upper floors and, in the early 20th century, the external central courtyard was roofed over to create a single have on the ground floor for use as a warehouse.

The architectural intervention of this restoration was based on the need to make historical and heritage preservation compatible with the new cultural use that the building was to be put to. In consequence, in addition to the principal built elements, the project maintains the existing typology, preserving the layout of the spaces on the upper floors around the courtyard and the single great hall it possesses on the ground floor. However, and in order to facilitate a good reuse as a cultural facility and to adapt it to current regulations and uses, two new elements have been built inside the complex that, while never distorting the formal and heritage characteristics of the building, allow for better functioning.

The intervention is based on creating an inner void over its full height that allows the three vertical floors to be interconnected, giving the whole, which originally was on a domestic scale and dimension, a more suitable proportion for its new public use. The enclosing lattice of this triple space allows natural light into the building on the ground floor and gives a direct view of the outdoor space occupying the central nucleus of the first floor.

In the interior space of the medieval tower, which formerly housed the “treasure” (the space where the gold and metals were kept for minting coin), highly deteriorated by later interventions but with the powerful presence of the building’s history, the new main staircase has been built, the backbone to all the activities.
For the enclosures of the building’s new fabric a single material has been chosen, solid ceramic brick, in a clear reference to the chimney stack of the old Seca built in the 19th century. The versatility of this material is put to good use both as a structural element or as a purely constructional one, to give a new plastic and formal finish to the new builds.

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Situación: Barcelona. Arquitecta: Meritxell Inaraja Genís. Colaboradores arquitectura: Laura Bigas, arquitecta, Amàlia Casals, arquitecta y Núria García, arquitecta. Colaboradores estructura: Eskubi-Turró Arquitectes. Juan Ignacio Eskubi y Sandra Gibert, arquitectos. Colaboradores mediciones y presupuesto: Cristina Bou Palanques, arquitecta técnica. Colaboradores instalaciones: Aia instal•lacions arquitectòniques. Otros colaboradores: Concurso: Aleix Bieto, arquitecto y Artur Marco, arquitecto. Maquetas: Pau Vilar, arquitecto. Acústica: Pere Cerdà, ingeniero acústico. ArqueologÍa: Picat Patrimoni. Restauración muros: Gamarra & García. Aparejador: Jordi Lleal Giralt y Cristina Bou Palanques. Promotor: ICUB, Institut de Cultura de Barcelona, Ajuntament de Barcelona. Coordinador de Seguridad y Salud: SGS. Tecnos. Constructora: Contratas y Obras. Fotografía: Josep María Molinos (Fotografía d’arquitectura Wenzel).
José Mª Wenzel - Molinos
Josep María Molinos