unparelld'arquitectes transforms an urban void into a street landmark in Olot, Spain

A party wall and four concrete buttresses left off a razed site sought a new meaning as they become a unique public space in the project titled 'Can Sau. Emergency Scenery'.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Apr 30, 2020

In the old city centre of Olot, a town in Central Catalonia of Spain, unparelld'arquitectes has transformed a demolished house into a stunning facade that now doubles up as a backdrop for local public events and gatherings. The seemingly 'unfinished' facade faces one of the sides of the church of the patron saint of Olot.

Three brick vaults and four niches make up the facade | Can Sau Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
Three brick vaults and four niches make up the facade Image Credit: José Hevia

Previously, a house called Can Sau stood on the site and was razed as over half of its volume was affected by street alignment. The de-densification resulted in a void that was characterised by a party wall and four rough concrete buttresses that extended onto the street and disfigured its landscape.

The facade and the adjoining street | Can Sau. Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
The facade and the adjoining street Image Credit: José Hevia

Eduard Callís and Guillem Moliner of the local architecture studio were commissioned by the Olot town hall to transform the party wall into a beautiful scenery. Though the brief stated the project to be a pavement intervention, which also included waterproof metal cladding works, the architects decided to reformulate it and give the wall a street identity.

“It was urgent to allocate resources to the vertical plane to endow the space with urbanity, apart from guaranteeing the waterproof qualities of the party wall. In the compact city, the façades take responsibility for giving shape and character to the street,” explain Callís and Moliner.

The site before renovation | Can Sau. Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
The site before renovation Image Credit: Esteve Moner

The duo constructed a porous inhabitable facade characterised by three barrel vaults and four niches. Built using hollow bricks, the adapted party wall beautifully enmeshed itself in the skin of the buttresses, blurred the boundaries between the old and the new.

The softly illuminated space during the night | Can Sau. Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
The softly illuminated space during the night Image Credit: José Hevia

“It is an unfinished and appropriable structure,” mentions unparelld'arquitectes.

Traces of domestic activity marked on the party wall have been included in the facade to keep intact the memories of the past in the street fabric of the future.

The old and the new fabric | Can Sau. Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
The old and the new fabric Image Credit: José Hevia

Light globes dangle from the arched ceiling and softly illuminate the space. The encompassing warmth of the surface is heightened by the exposed red coloured steel bars that support the wall.

Visual artist Quim Domene has given the facade its added relevance, by intervening in the niches elements allegorical to the history of the neighborhood.

The facade serving as a backdrop for cultural events and gatherings | Can Sau Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
The facade serving as a backdrop for cultural events and gatherings Image Credit: Roger Serrat-Calvó

How an ingenious transformation of a ruin has impacted its context can be seen with the people engaging with the resurrected Can Sau in their day to day life - friends spending time in its alcoves, and people celebrating festivals in its backdrop.

  • Can Sau Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
    Plan and section Image Credit: Courtesy of unparelld'arquitectes
  • Sectional Isometric | Can Sau. Emergency Scenery | unparelld’arquitectes | STIRworld
    Sectional Isometric Image Credit: Courtesy of unparelld'arquitectes

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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