When Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill stumbled upon an abandoned cement factory in 1973, he saw opportunity in the ruins. Bofill bought the early twentieth-century compound and, together with local Catalan craftsmen, transformed the sprawling structure of silos and compounds into an incredible fairytale home that blends surrealism, brutalism, and modernism. Located in Catalonia, Spain, the renovation is remarkable – not only for its stunning appearance, but also for the architect’s ongoing ambition to make the concrete fortress into a surprisingly livable home and studio.
A true labor of love, the Cement Factory home is over forty years in the making and is constantly evolving with no foreseeable end in sight. The basic overhaul, which included partial destruction with dynamite and jack hammers, took a little over a year to make the complex livable.
To soften the harsh concrete facade, the grounds were generously replanted and climbing vines were introduced on the walls. The renovated complex is more than just Bofill’s dream home—it also contains a workspace for his architecture firm, a conference and exhibition room, a model workshop, gardens, and archive rooms.
The existing structures largely influenced the design of the interior and the industrial feel was retained wherever possible.
The rooms are flooded with natural light from the tall ceilings and large windows, while the silos serve as giant works of sculpture. “The factory is a magic place which strange atmosphere is difficult to be perceived by a profane eye.
“I like the life to be perfectly programmed here, ritualised, in total contrast with my turbulent nomad life,” said Bofill. His firm says the project “will always remain an unfinished work.”
While the raw concrete walls and slightly oxidized surfaces were preserved, the complex of silos and industrial structures have come a long way from its cement factory past. In addition to its unexpectedly lush exterior, the interior features surprising and skillful combinations of warm tones, textures, and contemporary elements against the industrial backdrop.
Every room is treated like a work of art, with carefully selected furnishings that allude to the site’s history. “I have the impression of living in a precinct, in a closed universe which protects me from the outside and everyday life,” said Bofill.
“The Cement Factory is a place of work par excellence. Life goes on here in a continuous sequence, with very little difference between work and leisure.”