Mateo Arquitectura recently completed the new building for the Film Library of Catalonia in the Raval district of Barcelona. Designed by Josep Lluís Mateo, the project won the first prize in a restricted competition in 2004 and houses archives, a library and cinema halls on a total area of 7,515 sqm (80,891 sqft).
Project Description from the Architects:
Josep Lluís Mateo: "About the form… The ruins mark the structure of the buildings. The Roman forum formalizes the plane of foundations and drains.
In the old town, my building sets out to express itself as pure structure—no cladding, no finishes.
The bare concrete beams-cum-walls that form the façades are very varied, proving themselves members of the family of the dilapidated neighbouring walls, where plaster crumbles to reveal their original central mass.
Filters are juxtaposed on the wall. This cinematographic metaphor is not just conceptual; it is above all physical, sensible. In the old town, with very close relations between buildings, interaction must be mediated, filtered. And this is implemented by a variety of devices, with a vague cinematographic reference.
About the space… The space is organized around two movements: a) The descent into the darkness of the cinemas, with the reflection of the spectators (in turn reflected, actors seen in a series of mirrors); b) The ascent towards the light, towards the places of work.
Two courtyards, connected but not continuous, accompany and construct the movement."
Place and Project
The new film theatre building presents a façade on Plaça de Salvador Seguí, at an angle to Carrer de Sant Pau. Together with the existing constructions, it forms Carrer d’Espalter.
It is very close to the mythical Carrer de Robador, in an area which, despite the major clean-ups still going on and the change in population, is still a popular, built-up, oppressively Mediterranean/port neighbourhood.
Its relation with its setting operates on the following levels:
The project and Plaça de Salvador Seguí:
The plaza represents a clearing in the built-up district of El Raval which, thanks to this construction, attracts new users and hosts large-scale events. A porch on the ground floor can be opened or closed according to functional needs.
The film theatre is a continuation of the building line of the street, blending in with its setting.
The project and its immediate surroundings: Carrer d’Espalter:
The volume of the cinemas is undergrounded, thereby reducing the scale and visual impact of the building. The street is widened a little, drawing the construction back from the building line. The new building reduces the ground floor section at the end walls, which also makes the street wider.
The Film Theatre was conceived as a form “under construction”, as mass and volume without detail. The principal material used is therefore concrete—hard and strong. To accentuate this “unfinished” appearance, the beams extend to the exterior with their tensioning cables.
The building is basically a beam-cum-wall that also frees up space without imposing a domestic presence.
The brief brings together in a single building functions that were previously housed separately: the library, the archive and the two cinemas, along with administrative and other functions, such as preparing publicity and information. There are also galleries and a cafeteria-bar.
The ground floor houses the reception and foyer to the cinemas, the vertical communication shafts, the cafeteria-bar and the necessary complementary services (ticket desk, etc.)
On the first floor are the library and a permanent exhibition gallery, and the second and third floors house the offices of the ICIC (Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries). The second floor is an open-plan space that looks out over the plaza and the street, Carrer d’Espalter, with a terrace overlooking Carrer de Sant Josep Oriol. The third floor is partially lit by a courtyard that becomes a skylight in the roof of the second floor.
In the basement, beneath the building’s projection, are the two floors of archives and storage, and the part of the basement below the plaza houses the two cinemas.
Site: Plaza Salvador Seguí, distrito del raval, Barcelona
Surface: 7,515 m2
Author: Josep Lluís Mateo
Client: ICIC (Institut Català de les Indústries Culturals)
Budget: 12,000,000 Euros
Structural Engineering: BOMA, Agustí Obiol
Installations Engineering: Grupo JG
Budget Control: Tram
Fire Protection Francesc Labastida