The completion of the different stages of Reales Atarazanas restoration project enables the recovery of an important historic complex which, in the context of a suitable historic rehabilitation project, will facilitate a necessary recovery of our naval construction history.
The refurbishment of the royal shipyards complex, the Reales Ataranzas, began in 1984, with the drafting of the Master Plan, and since then several refurbishment interventions have taken place in the Marqués de Comillas Halls (1987) and the Pere IV building (1990), which contains the entrance to the Maritime Museum and a Conference Hall, as well as the hall known as that of the Generalitat, which contains the Capmany Hall (1994). Finally, in 2012, work was started for the refurbishment of the space known as “the great halls”, which completes the various refurbishments and renovations required by a building as emblematic for the Mediterranean cultural landscape as the Atarazanas Reales.
The archaeological surveys of the time revealed the existence of an old Roman cemetery and remains of medieval walls, wells and pillars, and together with a study of the way to build a galley by placing its frame in an elongated cavity made in the ground between two of the aqueduct arches, they made up the ‘script’ on which the architects carried out their project strategy.
The roof and the structural restoration of the arches was carried out in a similar way to the intervention on the Marqués de Comillas Hall, the first of the refurbishment interventions carried out in the Atarazanas complex. The routing of the air-conditioning ducts was designed to circumvent the archaeological remains, and the machinery is located in the water drainage courtyard.
The façade of the great halls giving on to Avenida Paralelo consists of the original 15th century wall, which is attached to the enclosing walls of the west-facing arcades. These arcades were severely deteriorated and the aqueduct arches that made it up were walled off so that it was impossible to see either the arcade, the enclosing wall, the façade wall or the inner space, which was shrouded in darkness. The renovation work consisted of emptying and restoring six arches of the main arcade and the enclosing wall, as it exhibited some damaged openings in front of each arrow slit in the wall itself. The refurbishment of this wall consisted of consolidating it with the aim of preserving the patina it had acquired over the years while also creating a series of steel frames in the openings with the same dimensions as the inner sides of the arrow slits.
The operation of emptying out the arches of the final west-facing arcade serves not only to participate in the transparency that characterises the whole building, but also allows the southern light, with its Mediterranean quality, to enter the enormous isotropic space which configures the Reales Atarazanas in Barcelona.