Venice 2023 – Emotional Heritage
It is not only people that contain the memory of a place, but buildings too are loaded with memories of the uses and lives that occupy them. The built fabric reflects social behaviour. It speaks of a way of using the ground, the sky, of a way of inhabiting. As an architect, to read the memories held in buildings and in people is to think about a future that counts on that past.
When a building is closed and abandoned, it remains alive in the memories of those who lived there. The abandoned building carries the civic and moral values embedded through use and over time, and the stories of the people who have occupied the place over the years. These occupations have created an invisible constellation of social relationships that expand the influence of this construction to a universe around it.
To open the discussion around these thoughts we have brought process material to Venice, unfinished drawings, models and films, documents which incorporate doubts and reflections, lying on tables to encourage exchange. These documents will be the beginning of a conversation, objects between people and subjects such as ‘The open condition of the ruin’, ‘The right to inherit’, ‘Drawing with time’, and ‘The value of use’.
These concepts are displayed in four different tables. In these tables we find six different projects that develop the concepts:
Drawing with time Mills Museum
The advantage of working with existing buildings, in places where you have not taken part in their creation, is that one can play the role of an observer. You begin by observing… things made by others, things that you discover as a visitor. In our case, we observe by drawing, recording everything, including what we value and what we don’t, until it becomes our own drawing, our own project, which we then begin to modify, adapting the existing to fit the new brief.
We are interested in drawing with time, without the need to erase or prioritise one era over another, incorporating the temporal dimension of buildings, not from nostalgia but from memory. Drawing the existing to get to know it is, at the same time, an exercise in making it one’s own. In that drawing, the different generations that built it are all expressed at once.
In the Mills Museum of Mallorca, we worked to heighten its existing qualities and geometries, amplifying them through excavation and the introduction of natural light, to the point that their influence on the whole space was multiplied.
The value of use Yutes Warehouse and Sala Beckett Drama Centre
The idea of heritage has nothing to do with what is valuable or monumental, but arises from time and experience, from what is radically collective. This condition is present in ordinary architecture, accumulated in an infinite number of layers, latent in every detail, ready to reawaken in our memory. The elements that one could find in an abandoned building -doors, windows, claddings, glazing, cement tiles, plaster decoration-, are often worthless in terms of trade value, but very precious from the perspective of their use-value. To draw these elements and catalogue them is to recognize and learn from their building culture.
The Yutes Warehouse project, for a textile manufacturer where natural fibres and non-polluting processes are used, introduced us to the discipline of reuse. In this project, we drew up a proposal in favour of everything that could continue to be useful in the found building: walls, floors, windows, stairs…
In the Sala Beckett Drama Centre, the original workers’ cooperative was not a protected structure. There was no formal obligation to preserve it. This building, which had been abandoned for over twenty years, remained very present in the memory of those living around it. Thus, the project became a matter of restoring both its physical and social heritage.
The open condition of the ruin Variétés Cultural Laboratory
We enjoy the discreet and calm whole of the ruin when you are inside and it presents itself as such, awaiting patiently, in silence for our evaluation. That ruin, which describes the passage of time in the marks left upon it, does not separate out its different periods; instead, they are joined together, and the building becomes a palimpsest. This timeless character of the ruin opens it to interpretation, allowing us to find that precise moment when we feel an affinity between our own memories and the memories of the place.
In the Variétés Cultural Laboratory in Brussels, developed alongside Ouest Architecture, we work on giving a new use to a 1930s Theatre, a building that has been abandoned for decades. The old wooden circular stage and its fly tower will continue being the heart of this space, a huge public interior in the dense built fabric of the old town.
The right to inherit Casal Balaguer Cultural Centre and La Favorita Fab Lab
If one accepts that each generation has the right to work with what they inherit from those who came before, adapting that legacy to the conditions of use of current times, then we should also accept that the materiality and the history of this legacy, the physical and emotional weight of what is inherited, has the strength to resist design decisions. This forces us to work critically with what we have found, to understand it and incorporate it, until we reach a balance where the design actions are not new, but rather an evolution of what was there before.
The Casal Balaguer Cultural Centre in Mallorca, developed with Duch-Pizà Arquitectes, is a transformation of an aristocratic house with origins in the 14th century, renovated in the 16th and extended in the 18th, which had to go from being a family home to a public building open to the whole city. The project opens previously closed areas and abandoned rooms, designing a new and more intuitive way of getting around the building using natural light, while retaining the mystery and spatial complexity that has been created throughout the history of the house.
For La Favorita Fab Lab in Barcelona, which reuses an abandoned industrial ensemble, other conditions external to the building are also considered as a heritage to take care of, such as the trees that grow in the street, along its façade, or the large amount of sky that surrounds the place. Building, trees and sky are taken as a whole to develop the new occupation.
|Dates:||20th May – 26th November 2023|
|Location:||Le Corderie dell’Arsenale, Venezia|
|Project:||August 2022 – March 2023|
|Construction:||April – May 2023|
|Opening:||20th May 2023|
|Authors:||Flores & Prats / Ricardo Flores and Eva Prats|
|Authorial collaborators:||Curro Claret, Adrià Goula Photo, Duccio Malagamba Photography|
|Studio collaborators:||Guillem Bosch, Jonny Pugh, Laia Montserrat, Florette Doisy, Davide Dentini, Elena Wagner|
|Carpentry:||Fusteria La Barana (Josep Margalef)|
|Photographs:||Adrià Goula and Judith Casas|
|Additional support from:||Institut Ramon Llull, Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), Cooperativa Jordi Capell, EGM Laboratoris Color|