Today, Lindsay introduces a new series. ‘Building Culture’ is an ongoing series documenting architecture of specific places using photography. It will look at how culture can develop through built forms and, as the archive grows, this series will act as a visual catalogue exploring the relationship between architecture and the location it finds itself within.
For our first feature, Barcelona-native Anna Izquierdo documents four very different buildings that reinforce Barcelona’s worldwide reputation for its Catalan architecture and community-focused public spaces. Located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona sees city life infused with a coastal way of living, as families gather at Parc de ‘Espanya Industrial, people meet at beach-side Bar Necora, and communities develop in the Singuerlín apartment blocks and nearby Walden 7.
Within each of these spaces, people grow, relationships form and stories are created. With good design flourishing, communities bloom.
Parc de l’Espanya Industrial
Located near Plaça d’Espanya, this public space came to life in 1985 thanks to Basque architect Luis Peña Ganchegui. Referencing its heritage by naming the site after the textile mill that originally occupied the site, Parc de l’Espanya Industrial acts as community gathering space, where Modern sculptures and two feature lighthouses surround an artificial lake.
Just west of Barcelona, in Sant Just Desvern, lies Walden 7, an apartment building designed by Ricardo Bofill and made famous by its utopian vision and striking form. Built on the ruins of an ancient cement factory in 1974, this 14-story block contains 446 residencies, of which almost all have a view of one of the five exterior or interior courtyards. With quality of living at the forefront of Bofill’s vision, Walden 7 features well-designed apartments amidst public courtyards and swimming pools—gathering places where the poets and artists who originally occupied the apartments would have conjured up their creative collaborations. Nowadays, the residents are a little more diverse (albeit a many a architects), but nonetheless, community is still at the centre of the building whose namesake—B.F. Skinner’s science-fiction novel, Walden Two—depicts a utopian community.
Hidden away along Barcelona’s Catalan Mediterranean coast, lies Maresme, a beach town where Modernist architecture overlooks sandy beaches and fishing villages. Necora d’Or, a chiringuito (Spanish beachside bar), comes to life in summer as a place for friends and families to gather over authentic Spanish food and drink. This Modernist building, which is representative of many of Spain’s coastal bars, offers a welcoming doorway to a communal atmosphere that overlooks a painterly view of sand and water that stretches a vast 37 kilometres.
The warm hues of these tall towers pop against the greenery of the hill they sit on. Dropped into the middle of Singuerlín—a neighbourhood within Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Barcelona—they stand tall against the plethora of small apartments and homes within this working-class suburb, catching the eyes of locals who drive out of Barcelona along the C-38. While this post-war mass housing may not host the progressive communal spaces of Walden 7, they indeed house a diverse community, and each day, like every other flat in Barcelona, stories are made.