This refurbishment project, beyond the constructional aspects that make up a project such as this one, proposes an interesting articulation of a public space with the objective of recovering the neighbouring canal as a backbone for the town in the form of an urban promenade.
The project proposes the integral refurbishment of two tanneries located in the industrial district of Rec (‘canal’ in Catalan), in the city of Igualada, with the objective of locating the Headquarters of the European Leather Centre. The project exists within a strategic town planning operation, which aims to take advantage of local heritage assets with economic and touristic objectives, as a first step towards its regeneration and creating a platform for the promotion of tanning that is able to explain that this industry is in the 21st century, and which complements the neighbouring Leather Museum.
The project began with the idea of preserving the pre-existing constructive elements and the set of parameters as they were found, with or without cladding, but conveniently repaired. The history of an industrial building such as this one is expressed in its interior, where the variety of simple and functional constructive solutions, the presence of supports and openings that resolved the needs of each moment, and the gashes in the walls all explain its growth and transformation over time. And in this sense, the intervention seeks to preserve this physical memory, avoiding anything that would mask, scrape or polish. The intervention on the existing structure (walls, roofs, etc.) is proposed as a minimalistic operation, beginning with the need to take full advantage of all the existing elements, reinforcing them where necessary with easy and affordable solutions.
With the objective of arranging the service spaces which the new programme required (offices, bathrooms, installations, etc.), and considering that these elements could potentially clash with the existing spaces and undermine their qualities, a set of ‘boxes’ has been designed and inserted into the existing structure. These wooden boxes replicate the constructive system of the antique clotheslines which dominated the interior of the building, and resolve the specific requirements of the programme with regard to facing walls, installations, etc.
Simple and easily-executed solutions were selected for the materials and constructive systems. The interior walls were left in their initial state, and the floors are in concrete, as in any industrial space. A system of prefabricated panels was selected for the boxes, which is dry mounted, uses low-cost materials and is easy to recycle. The joinery is austere, in pine which was already present, and the façades feature improvements on traditional techniques, based on an insulating limestone cladding. The set of installations which traverse the historic space is exposed, so that they appear as elements overlapping the previous structures.