A Cement Plant Turned Family Compound

Project: Cement Factory
Architects: Ricardo Bofill, Taller de Arquitectura
Date: 1975–?

“Originally the experiment was to find the most ugly thing in the world—this cement factory that is creating pollution, creating dust, a horror story for any sort of ecological-minded person—and figure out how to transform it,” says Ricardo Bofill Jr., son of the visionary architect and now a principal in the firm himself. “What are we going to do here? How are we going to plant trees? Part of the creation is destruction. Like when you do marble sculpture, you remove in order to find something inside. In the beginning, the whole factory was a hugely industrial studio of architecture. Then my family started inhabiting it. My father allowed everybody in the family to choose their favorite hideout within the tunnels and staircases and spaces and rehabilitate it. The fun thing is that it’s never finished. For instance, my father, who has remarried, his wife recently wanted another bedroom, and she found a space that wasn’t accessible before. We never tried to put in expensive materials—the columns in the windows were done with drainage pipes, and you can see the serial numbers. There’s space for experimentation; the architect always has his lab open. If you come back from Japan fascinated with aesthetics, you can find a space and do something very Japanese. It’s quite a narrative place. You can always see the layers.”

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Planting was “a challenge: There’s a slab of cement, and there’s not much direct sunlight.” But the trees help combat pollution and serve as a sound barrier. Photo: Adrian Gaut

In addition to private bedrooms and living areas, there are mixed-use spaces such as this design library. Photo: Adrian Gaut

Eleven family members and groundskeepers reside on the property, which is also headquarters for the family’s architecture firm. Photo: Adrian Gaut

A Cement Plant Turned Family Compound