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September 22, 2014

In Residence: Ricardo Bofill

How the Spanish Architect Built An Empire Out of a Disused Factory

There are houses, and then there’s Ricardo Bofill’s house: a brutalist former cement factory of epic proportions on the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain. A grandiose monument to industrial architecture in the Catalonian town of Sant Just Desvern, La Fabrica is a poetic and personal space that redefines the notion of the conventional home. “Nowadays we want everyone who comes through our door to feel comfortable, but that's not Bofill’s idea here,” says filmmaker Albert Moya, who directed latest installment of In Residence. “It goes much further, you connect with the space in a more spiritual way.” Rising above lush gardens that mask the grounds’ unglamorous roots, the eight remaining silos that once hosted an endless stream of workmen and heavy machinery now house both Bofill’s private life, and his award-winning architecture and urban design practice. Founded in 1963, Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura (RBTA) is one of Spain’s most prolific firms, with a long list of work that spans the globe: from Les Halles and the Christian Dior headquarters in Paris, to the JP Morgan’s skyscraper in Chicago and the Shangri-La Hotel in Beijing. But it is Bofill’s monolithic conversion showcased here that is undoubtedly his most personal work: a successful, and beautiful experiment in repurposing space, which has become a landmark of alternative living. “My entire crew was under the age of 30, and we all listened to Bofill wide-eyed,” says Moya. “To see someone who is approaching 80 with such a modern and young mentality gave hope to all of us.”


Square footage of the house:  5,000 square meters.

Bedrooms and baths:
Eight bedrooms, 12 baths.

Main building materials:
Concrete, ceramic, wood, glass.

Year house built:

Oldest item: The furnace, from 1920.

Newest addition: A bedroom and a bathroom, in 2010.

Ceiling Height (at highest point): 10 meters (The Cathedral)

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Just in Case

Piet Hein Eek Thinks Outside the Box for Ruinart Blanc de Blancs

Dutch artist Piet Hein Eek applies his playful side to Ruinart Blanc de Blancs’ distinctive golden bottle in this short film by Benoît Millot. Ruinart was the first Champagne house to make the change from shipping bottles in baskets to wooden crates in 1769, in a bid to protect their precious cargo. Since commissioning Alfonse Mucha to create a poster for the brand in 1895, and having become the official champagne partner for Art Basel and Art Basel Miami in 2010, Ruinart has developed strong links with the worlds of contemporary art, recently collaborating with individuals such as Maarten Baas and Gideon Rubin. Piet Hein Eek, who runs a studio with fellow designer Nob Ruijgrok in Eindhoven, has established a signature style creating one-off objects through old pieces of wood and has exhibited worldwide at venues including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Salone del Mobile in Milan. The unique trapezoid boxes were crafted with pale wood found and collected by Piet Hein Eek, and perfectly house the bottles while inspiring an abundance of ways the shape can be used to create other objects. One of these is a monumental, six-meter-wide arch that Piet Hein Eek revealed at this year’s Art Basel, made to house over 240 discretely illuminated bottles.

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Paul Vanstone: Marble Giant

The British Sculptor Opens the Doors of His London Studio

“Marble has the same qualities as human skin, absorbing and reflecting light,” says British sculptor and Henry Moore Award-winner Paul Vanstone. Playing with scale, texture and traditional marble carving techniques, the former apprentice of Anish Kapoor carves figurative pieces that have exhibited in Tate Modern, British Museum and the V&A. Setting up studio near one of London’s distinguished sculptural landscapes, the 19th-century Kensal Rise Cemetery, the artist’s space captured here by photographer Leon Chew is filled from corner to corner with busts, tools, and unfinished monuments, all coated in a fine layer of marble powder. After graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art in 1993, Vanstone made a pilgrimage to Carrara, located in the northernmost hills of Tuscany and veritable home to marble work since the days of antiquity. “Marble has to be worked in such a careful way compared to other stones,” he adds, having spent time with the stonemasons of Rajasthan in North-Western India to hone his medium. “There can be a lot of difference in the feel of the stone across the same block.”

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