How to turn an old factory into a fairy tale house

See what emerges from a mixture of a love of architecture and design and an artistic talent through the example of Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill Levi

Ricardo Bofill Levi is a Spanish architect who graduated at the School of Architecture at the University of Barcelona and at the School of Architecture in Geneva. In 1963, he gathered a group of architects, engineers, planners, designers, sociologists, writers, directors and philosophers and created what today constitutes a world-famous compan Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura (RBTA).

It is an international company with over 1,000 projects in more than 40 countries, including the cities like Lisbon, Boston and Saint Petersburg, in addition to Barcelona.

However, the innovative and interdisciplinary approach to architecture and design, i.e., urban design, does not amount to the only thing that makes this company so unique.

And there’s something else:

Its headquarters, which at the same time function as Ricardo Bofill’s private residence, look like a fairy tale house.

But, unlike those fairy tale houses, this one was made from a factory.

How the idea od refurbishing the old cement factory emerged

In 1973, in the suburbs of Barcelona, Ricardo found an old Catalonian cement factory.

Where the plain eyes see ruins, concrete and silos, the artist’s eyes see something completely different:
Their dream home.

Ricardo and his collaborators have immediately recognized a great potential lying within the space of this factory. Cement factory was actually characterized by a variety of 20th century architectural styles:

  • surrealism in spiral stairs that lead to nowhere,
  • abstraction in the volume,
  • brutalism in the sculptural qualities of the material.

With his collaborators, this extraordinary architect decided to reconstruct the factory into a modern piece of art.


Together with local Catalonian craftsmen, he created an unbelievable building – one of the earliest examples of postmodernism in architecture, according to the historians of architecture and design.

Which is, in fact:

A romantic fairy tale house in which Ricardo lives and works and in which, sheltered from the outer world, he sets his ideas free.

Creation begins with practice

We all know how fairy tales usually begin: Once upon a time…

Ricardo’s fairy tale house had a similar beginning:

Once upon a time there was… a bang.

Not quite what you expected.

But in order to turn an old factory into a new piece of art, Ricardo had to use something that does equate to the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about the tools of an artist:

Dynamite and hammer.

The demolition of the parts of the factory took a year and a half.

However, when it comes to art, demolition does not mean destruction, it means creation:

Ricardo freed artistic shapes and forms out of the concrete forms of the factory. By destroying specific parts of the cement factory, Ricardo and his group were simply discovering hidden forms that were already there.

This artistic procedure that this unique architect applied serves as a proof that in the hands of a skilled artist, even dynamite and hammer can become the means of creation instead of destruction.

And then came the bloom…

After the demolition phase came the phase of greening and planting. Ricardo’s team had planted a variety of plants to climb the walls of the factory and hang from its roofs.

The site of La Fabrica was largely covered with grass and was bordered by eucalyptus trees.

Where once had been machinery rooms with giant cement mixers are now proudly standing palms, olives and mimosas. Lichen that covers the walls of the factory give the atmosphere of romantic ruin to the entire building.

The last phase was repurposing and redefining the reconstructed factory.

Just as it defied a list of standards in architecture, La Fabrica also defied functionalism, i.e., the idea that function defines the form.

Having liberated the space of its function and having provided it with a completely different purpose – from a plant filled with machines that used to roar while cement was being mixed and a black smoke rising from its chimneys, Ricardo created a sanctuary, away from everyday life and a place where creativity blooms freely.

A house as an autobiography

When one starts a project of building a house, one strives for the final goal of: finishing the project. Sounds logical, right?

Not as far as Ricardo is concerned.

His house is like a living organism. It has been emerging, growing and changing over a span of forty years. It was envisioned as an open-ended piece of artistry.

Great people often write their autobiographies. Ricardo does that, too. Except that, instead of words and pages, for writing, this unusual man uses:

Concrete, wood and space.

La Fabrica is, in fact, a kind of autobiography that changes and grows together with Ricardo and his group of artists. Similar to Gaudi’s La Sagrada Famila, its construction never ends.

Dream house – office – art gallery

La Fabrica is not just Ricardo’s dream house. At the same time, it functions as his company headquarters with spacious offices and conference halls. It also holds exhibition halls, workshop rooms, and interior gardens…

When it comes to interior design, Ricardo strives to preserve the existing structures:

The original design and atmosphere were preserved wherever possible.

The entire project is characterized by minimalist approach with minimalist materials.

Rooms are filled with natural light coming through large windows and high ceiling, and the old factory silos look like some giant art sculptures.

The interior of La Fabrica was created with a degree of contrast with concrete walls and factory structures: its predominant colors are combinations of warm hues, textures and modernist objects in contrast with the history of the building.

Each room was designed individually and was made into a smaller piece of art within La Fabrica’s wider structure. In fact, the entire building is a kind of oasis, made to shield the artist from the outer world and offer him freedom to create his magic.

A good designer ennobles the space around him

Ricardo Bofill Levi has a secret he is willing to share with you:

A good architect, and a good interior designer, too, can redesign and adapt every possible kind of space according to a completely new function, regardless of its original purpose.

In other words, they can turn any kind of space into a place of wonder.

Thanks to his innovative approach, Ricardo is now one of the greatest modern architects and has worked on numerous commercial projects. He uses his magic to shape his working and living spaces in accord with his inner vision.

Just like every great interior designer, Ricardo has himself combined and selected the materials and furnishings and designed all the details.

That is the exact thing that well educated and talented designers can achieve: their job is exceptionally creative, well-paid and able, even with many commercial projects, to leave just enough time and resources they require to realize all of their wishes and to make their own worlds magical.

Studying at the Interior Design department of the Faculty of Conteporary Arts, will help you develop your existing talents up to the level at which you will be able to independently design spaces, define colors and the entire atmosphere. In other words, you will be given everything you need to become a demanded for and well-paid interior designer who restores the magic of objects and spaces around us.

In addition to that, you will be given the knowledge and skills required for creating theatrical scenery and movie production design, which will give you an opportunity to directly work in the industry of dreams.

Design your future, refine your space, enroll at the Faculty of Contemporary Arts. 

Become a part of the generation of artists that will be setting some new rules in the world of interior design.

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