Architecture Monday

Another wonderful and stunning adaptive reuse. The Convent de Sant Fransec in the town of Santpedor was beyond having fallen on hard times. Much of the roof had collapsed, the walls were crumbling, and the nave was strangely filled with rusting junk cars. Rather than demolish it, however, the town chose to renovate it, and asked David Closes to turn it into a cultural centre.

What emerged is a delightful insertion that celebrates the age of the original structure and even the scars it gained over the years. In fact, it was those scars that formed impetus for the design: upon walking into the ruined nave for the first time, the team was struck by the quality of space that was heightened by the varied shafts of natural light that flowed through the crumbling roof.

That was it. To preserve the great spatial qualities the nave already possessed, and to heighten the texture of the rough stone, the new design incorporates many different lighting strategies, including a light tower, clerestories, and even varied artificial light sources. They rebuilt the vaulted roof in smooth plaster, a contrast to the stone walls that works to enrich the texture and play of light off the rough face. Similarly, stairs and other amenities are done in a way to differentiate between the old and the new.

This is a playful dance, with additions wrap around and poke through the building, allowing a circular path that lets you partake of the building from different angles while leaving the nave unencumbered and glorious.

A fine, fine piece of work. It takes what was there, sees the beauty within, and elevates it through care and vision.

Additional detail photos can be found here

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