First Prize for the Design Competition for the New Cultural and Civic Center “La Federación Obrera”.
That which is of most value of the theater building, the old Workers Federation building by the architect César Martinell, inaugurated in 1922, is the overall volume, the total space, the generous dimensions of this public facility, the character of being a unique block, semi-industrial, with the sufficient presence to dominate its surroundings, similar to that which a church’s role was in traditional urbanism, but stemming from a non-religious, republican context, bare and honest in reference to the means deployed.
The overall volume is reutilized, knowing that the capacity of adaptation, just like any good container does, responds correctly to the new functions served within.
Obviously, the preservation of the encompassed access core is, with its ornate façade, a highlight of a certain era that finds its full justification when it is seen attached to the new large volume beyond.
It is easy to appreciate the urban value of the building, especially in the plaza behind the complex where, within the context of the chaos of built volumes that occupy the surrounding space in a fragmented and haphazard nature, the enigmatic and boldly civil volume of our building stands forth. It is the triumph of the abstract qualities over the anecdotal follies of the figurative.
The proportions of the whole are , the exhibited materiality solemnly discreet and elegant, authoritative without unnecessary frivolities. Brick walls with baren pillars of great sobriety expressing a constructive tradition.
There are two accesses, the first from the street (c/ Jacint Verdaguer) and the new entrance from the plaza behind. There is a rectangular interior courtyard displaced to one side with overhead lighting that gives a spacial unity to the different levels and uses, and permits the creation of spaces of different sizes, while it resolves the link between two entrance axes, the old– from the street– and the new—the one from the plaza– that do not align in order to accentuate their chronological differences. This circumstance is one of the attractive elements of the project. What is extra is removed– the amphitheater–and the new program is distribuited throughout the space on concrete slabs that divide the space horizontally.
The basement level complements the required spaces. The exisiting stair from the street entry originally reached the first level, formerly the amphitheater, and is now extended to reach the new second level above. By assigning this stair a greater utility, our defense of maintaining this exisiting element is understood.
A new stair, located on the plaza end of the building, reaches from the basement level to the third floor together with the elevator-cargo lift. The exterior materials are existing brick and the interiors tend more toward white, flat and luminous materials, almost as if it were a full scale model.
This architectural option aims to fill the inherited container with a contemporary air, thus intertwining the historical with the present.