The 60s. The boom in the Spanish economy required housing adapted to modernity. Francisco Juan Barba Corsini, Margarita Brender Rubira and Joan Antoni Padrós Galera sign the Can Mercader project. An old factory in the center of Badalona turned into an island of houses, and which is now considered an icon of architecture.
“Architecture is a teamwork, in which it is not easy to find the courage to raise a voice of their own.” This foreboding phrase by Barba Corsini would define the teamwork carried out in the 346 houses of Can Mercader. A building of the highest architectural importance that goes unnoticed on a daily basis in this neighboring town of Barcelona. But that hides many stories among its pillars…
Can Mercader is signed by Barba Corsini in collaboration with Margarita Brender Rubira and Joan Antoni Padrós Galera. Which is already a milestone: in the year of the start of construction, Brender was the only collegiate architect at the COAC… Difficult to raise this voice that they managed to express together.
For an interesting building in which constructive freedom is excluded and without anchorages, with a functionalist base but adaptation to the environment.
And in which the well-being of the tenant is put as a basic need to be undertaken (well achieved, everything must be said) by the design team.
But let’s go to the project itself. A concrete building, which was a fabric factory until 1960. Divided into two fronts: one of them with three volumes and greater height; while the other of six blocks, lower, finishes defining a set of inner streets and squares.
A way of searching and finding green spaces in the urban center, which insists on the initial mantra of finding maximum well-being in the home. The strong identity of the V-shaped pillars does the rest.
Can Mercader is an example taken from the context of functionalist architecture, almost in a tropical style in which green breaks through the concrete. Other samples of this style of construction we can name are the project of the Indian city of Chandigarh, by Le Corbusier; and also the Ministry of Health and Education of Brazil, by Lúcio Costa.
The local wink is provided by the glazed tiles of some of the interior patios. And it is that architecture, according to Barba Corsini, “has to work. But immediately afterwards it must move ”. And Can Mercader continues to thrill today.
Text by Elena Minguela.
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