​​La Clara | Barcelona, Spain | 2021


​​Clara is a crack on ground level that stretches to the entrails of an anarchic block courtyard that resists the external reality thanks to its own neighbors’ laws. After cleaning up the rear brick wall one could read the word ‘lavadero’, public laundry spaces that sprang up in Barcelona during the XIX and part of the XX centuries, built at the intersections of the torrents that flowed down from Collserola mountains.

These laundries were significant on two levels –one deliberate and the other genuinely reactive–: functional and social. They materialized as spaces capable of solving the problem of laundering in the cities at the same time as they became the first public spaces of gathering and exclusively for female interaction.

The project is concerned with keeping this substance impregnating the existing walls: the desire to meet and smash, the invisible friction between the exterior and the interior, public and private; and the smell of industrial soap.

Clara and Alan’s project had been battered by a lot of conditioning factors inherited from a first proposal. The first decision was to laminate and separate layer by layer all the statements from this phase, to analyse them individually and later as part of the whole.

The result of this analysis was to maintain the voids of the courtyards: a first one that divided the public space in contact with the façade and the access from the bubble of private space that hides behind the intimacy offered by this first sequence of spaces. A second patio of smaller dimensions allows a similar subdivision into two bedrooms and a bathroom within the private area. With these two gestures, it is possible to solve the entire program of the dwelling in a simple and organic manner, which is coupled around these two vertebrae to get sunlight and ventilation for each room. On the first floor, the program of the main bedroom unfolds, occupying all the available space, isolating itself from the circulation of the stairs with movable dividers made of iron and polycarbonate.

The scheme is so elementary that it can be read diagrammatically as the program increases in privacy as it penetrates inwards.

Within this programmatic degradation, the two most public spaces (studio and living room) collapse into the first patio that is larger in scale and in function. Both are forced to coexist with this prolonged transparency that the patio offers, aided by a topographic leap that stifles the visual contamination between them.

A glass tank acts as a gum between the studio and the living room. This tank is stretched, its height is compressed to the minimum and its transparency makes it disappear in the surroundings of the new patio, the multi-family building and the volumes that overlook the block courtyard.

In the rest of the pre-existence, absolutely everything is maintained. The precarious state of some roofs forces to redo the area of the ground floor bedrooms and part of the roof over the living room –as well as the glass tank–, solved with composite steel decks supported by trusses and metal profiles, for economic and aesthetic reasons, evoking what could be a contemporary laundry room.

The materiality is thought from the aesthetics of nudity and the unfinishedness.​ ​All existing walls and stairs are undressed to show only the entrails, to recover the stench of soap and gossip. A continuum of trowelled concrete covers the entire ground floor, both inside and outside. A traditional manual terracotta is placed on the first floor to reduce the loads of the existing slab.

In the living room, there is only one object that due to its materiality, geometry and stillness, belongs so much to the place that it looks like an altar in a presbytery, framed bya raw iron façade in the background that hides the intimacies of the kitchen. All the rest, just more frank materials that speak of the effervescent rawness of this old laundry. Text description by the architects | Visit www.theradicalproject.com to read more about the project.

Source: www.cru.cat 
Photography by: Adria Goula Photo