by Jerry ElengicalSep 15, 2021
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.
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.
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 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.
“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.
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.
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.