Ugly and old districts are known as ones that never change. Revitalisations are useless because how we are supposed to change something which functions on its own? Maybe not in a representative way, but the life goes on, step by step and it isn’t even that bad. Upstanding visions of architects are crushing on a wall of reality. Maybe there is no need to change anything?
El Raval is exactly such a place – surrounding houses are loosing its plaster, there are colorful pants on laundry wires and this is so natural that noone even feels ashamed. Streets are narrow as it is in Southern Europe, it is possible to look into neighbour’s plates. And in the middle of all of it, in a hot buzz, there is brand new Film Theatre building. To be honest it is easy to omit it: visible structure, no finishing and varied facades make it a member of the family of dilapidated neighbouring walls, where plaster crumbles to reveal their original central mass. Also filters on elevations are a way of fitting in Barcelona’s life and simple cinematographic metaphor.
The Film Theatre building occupies whole quarter and creates public space on a square but also on a street. Ground floor is partially lifted which makes a passage connecting both parts and inviting visitors inside. What’s more basalt stone pavement of a square is repeated inside to create a relation IN-OUT. All these devices are used to blend the building into the urban fabric and revitalise the exterior by allowing pedestrians to use the shortcut. This basic way of using can speed up the process of asimilation.
Interior is divided into two parts: dark and light. The first one are cinemas, which are reachable by dimmed passages with mirrors. Users are able to feel like actors for a while when looking at themselves in mirrored walls. The light part are offices and exhibition area, where light is inevitable to work and show collections. But nothing is banal and obvious. The architect was playing with colours, transparence and openwork. He used wires-made patterns, perforated metal sheets, coloured glass in the interior It’s seemed that he’s interested in light games and reflections. It is mostly caused by localisation of a project and its disadvantages (no intimacy, daylight with high intensity), but they are the ones that create the atmosphere of a dark part, where mirrors emphasize the depth of the space, but also of a light one, where the architect controles intensity and colour of a daylight.
The object has 6 levels, 2 are under ground. There are cinema halls and temporary exhibition gallery. The ground floor is smaller to create bigger public space, but the most open and light. Next levels are for offices and exhibition halls. The whole building looks closed from the outside but variations on openworks and glazed ground floor add a little bit of a lightness.
Catalonian Film Theatre is a smart architecture. Standing inside dilapidated district doesn’t try to look old but also not dazzle with new. It was capable of assimilate into the neighbourhood, create public space and become acceptable. It intrigues not with odd shape but with light games and transparences. It is said that a good building is the one you look through walking on a street. In this case it’s obvious this is true.