Casa de la Marina

Construction year: 1954
Address: Passeig de Joan de Borbó 43 | BARCELONA | Spain
Latitude/Longitude: 41.3779, 2.18824

The first of this firm’s apartment buildings in Barcelona, this small tower on a corner site set the pattern for much of their residential work that was to follow. Coderch and Valls were two of the first architects to reestablish Modernist principles in Barcelona in the difficult post-war years. Built on a difficult but dominant corner near the waterfront, this small tower is responsive to the typology of long narrow blocks in the Barceloneta district of the city.

Built as publicly financed housing for fisherman, the program required shops at grade and above these 7 floors of small flats. The vertical qualities of the building, developed by alternating continuous vertical zones of ceramic tile and wooden louvers crowned with an overhanging eave help define the end of the block. The tiled walls are actually chimneys and the outside walls of closets while the adjustable louvers provide protection for windows and balconies. The louvers begin at the floor above the shops along the sidewalk and stop short of the overhanging eaves in a zone that cantilevers slightly outward from the building surface along the sidewalk.

The irregular plan may be seen as a reaction to the normal rectangular block, but effectively deals with the continuous corner surface. Two large apartments per floor back up to a central stair, elevator and plumbing cores and open out to the three exposed sides of the building and balconies protected by the louver system. The use of a floor-to ceiling wood louver system on the exterior wall, an idea first applied in several of Coderch’s houses in Stiges, effectively disguises the stepped form of the perimeter windows and balconies, thus emphasizing the surface qualities of the facades.

The louver idea, an adaptation of traditional Mediterranean window blinds becomes a distinctive leitmotif in the work of this firm, being used in another nearby project in the Barcelonetta under construction about the same time, the Coop Obrera la Maquinista courtyard block, and later, in increasingly elaborate applications, in Coderch’s group of 6 stepped blocks in 1967 and the huge las Cocheras development of several hundred luxury apartments built between 1968-73. Here the modest 8 story Casa de la Marina has been repeated and connected but the stepped plan form around a compact central vertical core is common to all these buildings. The building was restored in 1991 to repair the dilapidated louvers and other damage resulting from poor maintenance and to replace the overhanging eaves that had been changed over the years.

⇒ Architecture Guide to BARCELONA
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