Via Laietana

  • LOCATION Barcelona
  • > CLIENT Private
  • YEAR 2021
  • STATUS Built
  • CATEGORY Architecture
  • SCALE City

“It is exciting to recover the essence of a small part of the city that had been glorious in its days”

Working with emblematic buildings in a city is not new for OUA, but it is a detail that shows the architecture firm’s ability to excel in complex projects. This is the case of this building with a comprehensive rehabilitation, division and change of use to housing – located at Via Laietana, 12 in Barcelona. Oriol Serrat and Òscar Company explained to us the project.

What does the project consist of?
The project proposes a general change of use of a building dating from 1924, preserving and restoring the original design in the areas of the building that maintain the conditions of origin. This is the case of the façades, roofs, interior courtyards, the core of the stairway and the typological configuration of the floors. We proposed a respectful work of integration for the lobby (which does not maintain the original conditions) with regards to the requirements of accessibility and fire prevention regulations.

What is the new use of the building? And what were the previous uses?
The project foresees the development of a total of sixteen dwellings. Originally, the building was used for commercial premises on the ground floor, housing for the concierge in the basement, offices on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors and housing on the 4th floor. Subsequently, the housing on the 4th floor was progressively transformed into offices, with a similar configuration to the lower floors. The use of housing on the attic floor has been maintained since its construction in 1935.

What does it mean to perform in a building with almost a hundred years of history?
It is a privilege and a challenge at the same time. Beyond the difficulties involved in carrying out interventions on buildings with such a high level of heritage conservation, being part of the recovery of a small part of the city that had been glorious in its days is very exciting. Even so, due to the transformation of some of the dwellings into offices, a part of this heritage had become very degraded and changing it back into housing has involved a very rigorous work of historical analysis to recover the identity of the place and adapt it to the new needs of the market.

How do you recover the historical identity of a building that has been lost through a change of use?
It is like an archaeological work, carrying out a historical study and, based on this, working with craftsmen and professional restorers to recover the frescoes, stucco works and original architectural pieces. The original forms, textures, colours and materials were recovered through historical and patrimonial study.

How does the building interact with the environment in which it is located?
As it is in an environment surrounded by historic buildings, the rehabilitation of the building promotes and enhances the conservation, rehabilitation and improvement of this axis of Via Laietana. In addition, the decision to refurbish extends the useful life of the building. Just by not demolishing the building, the ecological footprint of the intervention is reduced.