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Casa Collage by Bosch Capdeferro Arquitectures, Girona, Northeast Spain

Emerging Architecture Awards 2010: Highly Commended

Collage emerged as an artistic pursuit in the 20th century. Particularly through the work of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso it became a technique for juxtaposing the incongruous, to imbue a work with unexpected meaning. While in this tradition it was often an act of collision, for Bosch Capdeferro Arquitectures it has become a technique for stitching.

At Casa Collage, the practice has used it to create a single residential and office block from a collection of derelict buildings. The existing structures, in the Jewish quarter of Girona’s Old Town, were built over many different eras. However they are all traditional Catalan stone constructions; already united by shared culture, material and place, the use of collage here connects elements separated by time rather than conception.

This approach is seen most explicitly in the block-application of tiles. These pixillated palettes punctuate the project, from the shared circulation to intimate domestic rooms. In each space they offer a slip of colour as a counterpoint to the muted masonry; a layered addition of the new in contrast to the stripping back of the old. Though physically isolated from each other, they trace together in the mind’s eye to create a filmic continuity as you make the transition from public to private.

Beyond this visual manifestation, a close reading of the plans reveals that the idea of collage has been continued to the essence of the building itself. With the stone walls that the practice inherited shown in a light grey and the new ones as black, it becomes clear that the additions both extend and subdivide the existing fabric.

And yet despite this binary demarcation, the practice hasn’t sought to differentiate new from old, but instead to create a ‘harmonious whole’ from the integration of the two. Rather than tidying up the existing, much of the new spatial organisation elaborates on the gradually-accrued complexity.Casa Collage conceives of the new not as separated from the old in perpetuity, but merely as the latest episode in the accumulation of history.

Architects bosch.capdeferro arquitectures, (Ramon Bosch and Bet Capdeferro) + Josep Capdeferro i Maureta, master builder
Structural engineer Blázquez-Guanter Arquitectes
Construction company Capdeferro Constructor
Collaborators Josep Grau i Bossacoma and Joan Anglada i Ruiz
Photography José Hevia and Javier Jubierre

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