Fabra i Coats was a British company of textile made in the XIX century that became in un-used on the 80s. Today in the old Fabra i Coats factory complex, a mixed-used program of facilities and open spaces hosts cultural events, projects in cultural investigation, experimentation and creation in different disciplines; performing art, music, visual arts, audiovisuals and multimedia, combining different scale of influence and a variety of uses which come together into a unified and complex urban project.
The large scale central cultural element is the activation of the rest of the civic facilities of the complex made whit an educational center, a nursery, a community center, various associations' headquarters, and social housing. The group of buildings is currently organized as an enclosure with well-defined limits. The intervention proposes moving beyond this enclosed condition with a single entrance by opening up new points of connection with the urban fabric. The set of interventions will create strategically central urban space for the city, which is also deeply rooted in its immediate surroundings, building a future based on the memory of its industrial past.
A total of eight firms were invited to take part in the contest for awarding the Fabra i Coats – Art Factory restoration project. Out of the different proposals, the Contemporary Arts Centre chosen was the project by the architects Manuel Ruisánchez Capelastegui and Francesc Bacardit Segués of Planurbs, S.L.P. (a partnership formed by the architectural firms of BAMMP Arquitectes i Associats and Ruisánchez Arquitectes). In particular, the work it proposed was highly respectful of the original structure of the building and looked for flexible and adaptable systems that would give the space a high capacity for modulation and adaptation according to the needs of the projects and activities.
The architectural project, made in four phases, set out to reactivate the unused building with an initial operation consisting of inserting a communications and services ‘jack’ which connects the movements and systems on each floor. Public usage is concentrated on the ground floor in a foyer that crosses the building from the new entrance. This foyer takes advantage of the possibilities afforded by the columns, which become the essential element for the distribution of spaces by means of separators, and acts as an ‘activities passage’. Budget restraints, the search for maximum flexibility in the partitioning of activities and harmony with a whole century of industrial production give rise to the most innovative element of the project, the use of canvas divisions recycled as lightweight internal divisions which, using a system of tensors, are attached to the pillars and function as curtains that change position according to the needs of each activity.