The Project

The recovery of a derelict building

The restoration project was designed by Ángel Borrego Cubero.

When the owner and their team took on La Carbonería, they found a building in a highly deteriorated condition. The façades and roof were in an advanced state of decay owing to the numerous alterations that had been poorly implemented, and the cumulative effects of weather and lack of care. The building’s inner courtyard had been partly infilled with small extensions, whilst the original flights of stairs leading to the dwellings had been demolished. The large openings on the fourth façade, facing the old Camino de Ronda, had been bricked up and modified to accommodate kitchen and bathroom windows. The original design of the building had been completely obscured and diminished.

Works to reveal and reclaim the original structure

A project that restores and enhances original design

La Carbonería is listed in the Municipal Catalogue as an Asset of Urban Interest with Level C protection, meaning its original façades and volume are protected and alterations and additions thereto are prohibited. However, a complete demolition of the interior of the building would be allowed.

Even so, it was decided from the outset of the project to preserve as many of the original elements as possible, or to recreate them in the event of irreparable deterioration, thereby adding cultural value to the works. As a result, only those additions that detracted from the original architectural unity were removed. Likewise, finishes were kept in good condition, leaving many of the original walls and ceilings exposed so that residents and neighbours could experience the authentic history of the building. This was complemented by certain works necessary to stabilise the building and enable it to meet modern requirements.

Renovation of the interior
©Simona Rota
©Simona Rota

A reminder of recent history

At the start of the project, the main façade still retained the well-known graffiti created during the years when the building housed the self-managed social centre. This graffiti, attributed in various sources to Feo Flip, Penao, Rock Blackblock and Joaquin Vila, and other works are part of the history of La Carbonería, but the licence granted by the City Council stipulated that the original materials of the façade had to be reinstated and, consequently, all additional elements removed.

As a reminder of that important stage in the building’s recent history, the refurbishment project has left untouched some small elements of particularly well-preserved graffiti inside a few apartments. The graffiti on the pluvial partitions of the neighbouring buildings is also visible in the courtyard, in keeping with the general spirit of the refurbishment.

Interior graffitti, partly retained

Respect for the architectural heritage and the neighbourhood environment

A core aspect of the refurbishment project has been to respect and celebrate the architectural heritage inherent in the building and its surroundings. Further, there has been a strong belief that the renovation and re-use of the building will contribute to the social and economic revitalisation of the immediate urban environment.

Recovery of original archways to the rear
©Simona Rota
©Simona Rota

A hidden façade overlooking a non-existent boulevard

From the outset, a decision was made to give the rear façade the relevance and visibility it deserved, as a testimony to the historical moment from which it gave rise.

In the original design, the façade facing the Camino de Ronda formed an open gallery through which the flats were entered. When the Cerdà Plan was implemented, this façade was hidden inside the block of neighbouring buildings, and the gallery closed off by the former residents to became part of the new subdivided apartments. Gradually, its openings were stopped up, giving way to small ventilation windows for the kitchens and bathrooms.

To recover the essence of the original gallery, the architect proposed to remove the stairwell from inside the building and move it to the far corner of the inner courtyard, giving access to the apartments by means of remarkable floating walkways above the courtyard. This imaginative solution has allowed the rear façade to be restored as the original entrances to each apartment, as well as offering residents and guests a view of the building’s original design; almost as if the boulevard designed by Garriga I Roca in 1862, inspired by Antoni Rovira I Trias’s project, had actually been built.

Rear façade and floating walkways
©Simona Rota
©Simona Rota

A roof reinstated as a meeting place

The flat accessible roof needed to be completely renovated. Taking advantage of this circumstance, the project envisaged it as a communal space equipped with a small swimming pool. In its design, special care was taken in the choice of colours and materials, seeking harmony and integration with the urban environment.

The upper walkway giving access to this renovated roof also serves a structural purpose: it keeps the structure of the party-wall in place, the construction of which would otherwise have been impossible.

Communal rooftop and pool
©Joao Gaudenzi


The principles of sustainability have always been an integral part of the project. In its very essence, the project involves the recovery of an entire building, restoring and reusing both structural and decorative original elements whilst also improving insulation, thereby reducing the project’s carbon footprint.

In the same way, an original solution for harnessing solar energy has been applied through the construction of a sculptural structure covered with vegetation by the party-wall in the courtyard. The structure is designed to support vegetation and generate a friendlier microclimate and is ready for the installation of solar panels at some point in the future, whilst also reflecting and redirecting natural winter light to the lower floors thanks to small mirrors.

©Joao Gaudenzi


Lead Architect
Ángel Borrego Cubero, OSS

Local architect
Montserrat Farrés Catalá,
mmj arquitectes

Technical architect (DEO)
Xavier Aumedes, Arrevolt

Health & safety coordinator (OCT)
SGS Tecnos SA

Project Manager
Ignacio Moro, Moro Ojeda Y Asociados S.L.

Property manager and sales agent
CAT Real Estate SL

Media enquiries
Pati Núñez Agency