Flores & Prats is an architecture office from Barcelona, committed to confronting theory and academic practice with active design and construction. Last year, they completed Sala Beckett in Barcelona, an architectural project focussed on restoring the old building of the Pau i Justicia (peace and justice) cooperative and adapting it for new theatrical uses.
Now serving as a cultural space, the beloved 1920s building is characterised by its vibrancy and historic background which shaped the majority of its architectural restoration. The new Sala Beckett is now a dedicated space for theatre, creative experimentation and training. It also serves as a general meeting point for social interactions.
The design reflects the memories deeply rooted in the culture of the historical industrial district of Sant Marti which, having undergone significant changes for the 1992 Olympics, has now become a creative hub for numerous artists and creative talents.
To come up with a design, Flores & Prats spent a long time learning about production activities and theatrical experimentation, discussing them with Artistic Director Toni Casares and several others who would eventually make use of the new space. Their design stems from the spatial and decorative qualities of the existing building, a part of the identity assumed by the city of Barcelona at a time when the workers’ associations emerged along with their surprising capacity to create space for entertainment.
Each significant element has been carefully collected, from the frames to the doors, the polychrome tiles, rose windows, the stratifications present in the masonry fabric and the plasterwork. The design process included an in-depth study of the environmental characteristics, identified and developed through numerous drawings and detailed study models.
“The ruinous state in which we encountered the building was of interest, not because we wanted to restore it, but rather to take the ruin forward and make it a participant, with its unfinished character of superimposed periods, in a new reality that would continue to be updated on this foundation. (...) The challenge of the project is therefore to adapt the building to its new use without banishing its ghosts.” - Flores & Prats
Located in the heart of El Poblenou, the building has been crafted to maintain an open dialogue with the urban fabric of its surroundings; the corner opening in the façade makes the activities carried out on the inside visible and accessible. Most of the rooms located on the ground floor are used for public activities, and the entrance hall welcomes visitors into a relaxed, organic setting where guests can grab a drink at the bar or sit in the restaurant whilst waiting for a performance to start.
Flores & Prats: floresprats.com
Sala Beckett: salabecket.cat
Photography © Adrià Goula.