Can Comas planning in Granollers
A residential development that preserves industrial memory and links incomplete fabrics in the center of Granollers.
As in many of the towns in Barcelona’s industrial belt, the rapid growth of the center of Granollers has swallowed up factories that used to be on the outskirts. Their inevitable subsequent conversion has turned them into important elements for the balanced development of the town, which always needs facilities and green areas in this sector of highest urban density, but they are also architectural referents of the historical memory of the town’s people.
The Isidre Comas former textile mill is a paradigm example. The complex, just 30 metres from the Plaça de l’Església, with its entrance on Carrer Sant Jaume, one of Granollers’ main streets, occupies a site of approximately 16,320 m2 . With the exception of its chimney, architecturally the mill has little value, yet the office building and entrance form part of the town’s industrial memory and skilfully resolve the meeting of two streets, Sant Jaume and Aníbal. Furthermore, the site disrupts the relation of two streets, Príncipe de Viana and Molí, block the commercial growth of Carrer Sant Jaume, reduces density, and seriously impoverishes the sector.
Our project set out to address the problems caused by the presence of an obsolete factory. First, we developed a mixed program, including a large number of dwellings with a high percentage of social housing, a segmented commercial strip, and a municipal facility that is the driving force behind the rehabilitation of the old building leading into the factory. This varied program was organized in five independent constructions built in the existing streets to form an open street block. Two of these constructions were designed as L-shaped blocks, with two apartments per landing and daytime areas overlooking the courtyard. These two buildings formed the layout of three streets, Molí, Princesa, and Joan Pere Fontanella. In the case of the latter, a turn was introduced into the layout to widen the pavement and lead into Carrer Sant Jaume. The third block, also L-shaped, was built on Carrer Sant Jaume, though drawn back from the historical alignment to create a wider pavement beside the commercial area. This block comprises duplex apartments accessed by walkways, with living areas overlooking Carrer Sant Jaume. The fourth building, a simple block, is situated to create a built front along Carrer Molí. The fifth and final building was implanted to replace the one that formed the entrance to the factory. This entranceway has been respected, and the municipal facility was built in Carrer Aníbal. The resulting passageway unifies the five volumes, leaving an enclosed private space for residents, creating a small plaza around the old chimney, and offering a pedestrian alternative to Carrer Sant Jaume.
The buildings, with their different dimensions and programmes, were designed with a degree of unity of style. The setback ground floors act as bases clad with dark glazed brick, for ease of conservation. The upper volumes are finished in white stucco. Small windows are repeated for the bedrooms, and there are French windows in the living rooms, with colored glazed brick in areas accessible to the building’s occupants. This simple, domestic repertoire draws the complex into the scale of its surroundings without contextualizing it or giving in to urban anecdote. The project set out to reconstruct, by repairing it, a fragment of the town that had been invaded by a larger scale. The ultimate aim of the project was to bring about a return to this scale of the town, many years later, and reproduce it in a contemporary vein.