Factoría Joven surprised adults and kids when it opened its doors in Mérida last March. The old capital of Lusitania, home to a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, now houses one of Spain’s most striking architectural parks. The outdoor skate and amusement park is elevated upon a base about 1.5 metres off the ground in order to protect the archaeological remains beneath it. The multifunctional space is a place where youth can meet, practice sports, dance, play music and even access the Internet through public computers.
The Extremadura Regional Council worked with local residents to build Factoría Joven in only 13 months. The whole project was built at a cost of about 1.2 million euros mainly using long-lasting weatherproof polycarbonate panels set on a metal structure. The Internet room is suffused with natural light and features a bright orange floor. To minimize costs and environmental impact the room was furnished using recycled furniture. Because the canopy is basically a large, one-metre-thick “thermal cushion” made from plastic, it serves as a cool and breezy shelter that protects its visitors from the scorching Mediterranean summers.
Due to its extreme architectural impact and its long-lasting design, the building raised a critical political debate on how a public space should be designed today. But Factoría Joven is also a spectacular example of architecture built by the council in coordination with local residents. The project is set on the outskirts of a semi-industrial city in an effort to prevent the city’s desertification while encouraging young and old alike to engage in pleasurable and healthy outdoor experiences.
Photos © Iwan Baan