Built in the 13th century, the church of Vilanova de la Barca in the heart of Catalonia is mainly Romanesque, but pointed arches and the apse make the Gothic influences noticeable. During the Spanish civil war in 1936 the church was strongly damaged and for more than 80 years the walls lay waste. In 2009, it was decided to stop the decay and to conserve it in its current condition.
The architects proposed to reproduce the original contour of the structure, and to make use of the former church as a multi-purpose hall for exhibitions and concerts in this way. The building material of brick plays a major role in this elaborate renovation process. Beside securing the remains of the old walls, the new envelope consists of double-shelled brick masonry with a loosely offset, a porous bond on the outer façade and a solidly bricked, but airy-seeming layer of hollow block bricks on the building’s inside.
“The way we used the bricks is a quite conscious connection to the lively variety of the old, heavy ashlars.” - AleaOlea architecture & landscape
The revitalization of Vilanova de la Barca is an unusual approach to dealing with historical building fabric. This project shows the versatility and adaptability of brick as a building material and creates a unique dialog between the present and history.