Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats

 

We are all sentimentalists at heart. Sometimes we have the opportunity to indulge in our sentimentality through architecture. This beautiful old theatre in Barcelona has not just been lovingly restored but completely revitalised by the architects at Flores & Prats. A labour of love one might say, taking over six years to complete. The Sala Beckett theatre transformation has been a resounding success taking an old dame gracefully into a new era whilst keeping the integrity and character of the original building.

Sala Beckett is a place were the most renowned Catalan dramaturges have studied and the architects had a deep responsibility not merely to the architectural past of the building but to the rich history of the theatre’s dramatic one too. They were in some respects handed the mantle not just to respect the theatre’s history but in a very real sense they became the custodians of the theatre’s future as well.

“With this transformation of the existing building, old and new will work at the same time: it will be a place where one will find signs of previous occupations, but the whole building will be actualised for the new use,” said the architects.

 

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

 

The original theatre, only two storeys high, has seen a dramatic change to its exterior with the addition of a third level. Its previously fairly grim concrete façade, almost two dimensional with its shuttered down windows and cold concrete frontage has been transformed. The contemporary and stunning rooftop addition with its geometric shape boldly rising above the surrounding rooftops is a sight to behold. The ground floor is now inviting, opened up as it is with floor to ceiling glazing. Illuminated at night the ground floor appears to glow. The second floor, once shuttered away has had the old French doors brought back into use. It truly feels like someone has come in and thrown the doors wide open to let in air and light. It is as they say a Phoenix rising from the ashes. The external elevation now reads as a modern, dynamic building reflective of the young dramatic players within.

“The new building will maintain the spatial characteristics of the original building and will grow on top of it to give space to the new programme,” said the architects. And it does indeed feel as though the new building has grown out of the seed of the old. But there is nothing clunky or ill-fitting about the spatial execution of the final storey of this theatre. Instead it is a contemporary fit, a beautifully detailed and carefully thought through addition to an architectural memory of what was once before.

“In its interior an enormous vestibule connecting the three levels, and outside, a big new roof that transforms the old cooperative building into a big house: The New House for the Dramaturges.” There was a considered and conscious decision to keep the internal space as true to its original feel as possible. “With its unfinished character of superimposed periods, in a new reality that would continue to be updated on the foundation,” noted the architects.

 

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

Charming Unfinished Character of Sala Beckett in Barcelona Refurbished by Flores & Prats | Yellowtrace

 

Mosaics on the walls and floors remain, old plaster wall mouldings were retained and the original architecture mostly preserved. Curved balustrades and high ceilings with their original corrugated shapes were brought back to life. The old-world French doors and windows remain and carefully detailed plaster and paint finishes have not been erased in the name of progress but rather kept in all their shabby chic glory so that they could eloquently speak of their past. It is no doubt easier to simply plasterboard the whole affair and have modernity take the leading role. It is far more complicated and requires a finely-honed degree of architectural empathy to take the path of including elements from the existing building and to then give them as much of a voice as the new construction. It was a challenge wholeheartedly met by Flores & Prats and exceptionally well executed. It’s a beautiful expression of the previous architecture, the original space meeting the new progressive elements that have been introduced.

“The challenge of the project is therefore to adapt the building to its new use without banishing the ghosts of the past,” said the architects.

There is no doubt the ghosts of this old theatre have found their place within its new incarnation. There is something that all sentimentalists will enjoy about this transformation. It is the gift not only of reviving the past but it speaks to what we all love about architecture, the capacity to grow, to develop, to expand into the next level of design, to make a space relevant, to have form follow function without sacrificing aesthetics.

The space now has stages worthy of the next generation to continue the plays and acting long attributed to the artistic talents of the Catalan actors. And the community at large have the opportunity not only to watch and engage in the plays presented herewith but to appreciate the very rich architectural history and the newly engaged modernity that Flores & Prats must surely be exceptionally proud to have produced.

 


[Images courtesy of Flores & Prats Architects. Photography by Adrià Goula.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle
Contributor

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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