Montbui, a barren provincial village on the outskirts of Igualada (an industrial city in central Catalonia) was transformed by a great wave of emigrants in the 1950’s and 1960’s into a rapidly but underdeveloped series of urban projects. Since then this once poor neighbourhood has slowly acquired the basic services that it had severely lacked, however, a cultural centre capable of housing a library, conference room, auditorium, classrooms, a café, etc was still missing. The urban grid was conceived of in a hasty and chaotic manner which in turn surrounded the land with often bare and featureless buildings. The plot of land faces north towards a large public space and provides a broad open view over the surrounding counties and countryside. From the beginning we conceived of a building that would look out onto to the north but would remain closed off on the sides where Catalonia’s intense sun creates lighting and climate related complications. The building could be also seen as large portico that invites you to enter at the end of the recently completed park that crosses the city.
A large open porch leads to the centre’s entrance where a two-story lobby welcomes guests and grants them access to all parts of the building.
The north end of the library is capped off with a large window that stretches the entire perimeter and allows for a controlled and efficient amount of constant natural light to enter. The facade is made up of panels of white textured concrete with letters from different foreign alphabets that are arranged in a bas relief.
In some way, this building represents the trajectory of this region: from a poor and struggling neighbourhood to a thriving city. The building had to express this history while representing the community, therefore it deserved to be unique in its context; a singular but familiar structure at one end of the city that both united and strengthened it.
Santa Margarida de Montbui was a small municipality that the great immigration wave of the nineteen fifties and sixties turned into a dormitory town on the industrial outskirts of Barcelona.
In recent decades it has gradually acquired the basic services that it severely lacked: urbanisation of streets, health care facilities, schools, etc. Still missing though is a cultural centre capable of housing a library, conference room, auditorium and classrooms. In some way, this building represents the end of a trajectory from slum to city.
In 2008, the stipulations for the tender described an "emblematic building" capable of demonstrating that this was the meeting place for the townspeople, while in turn strengthening the self-esteem of a community that needed it.
Morphologically speaking, the surrounding area is disordered, and the architecture is generally poor. This led us to conclude that a construction of special quality was required here.
In terms of its position, the building forms the end of the elongated park that runs through the urban area.
Its northern facade is conceived as a large glass portico that opens generously onto the park and onto good views over this region of central Catalonia. On the sides facing east, south and west the facades are more closed, with lattices for sun protection in all the windows.
Entry is through a large porch that leads to a double-height lobby from which all the major departments can be accessed.
The library is located longitudinally along the large window that receives constant natural light from the north.
In the interior light colours have preferably been used, while the conference and projection room have maple panelling. The multi-purpose room/auditorium has retractable stands and has been treated as a large dark room in order to ensure good visibility for film screenings.
The foundations consist of pilings and prestressed concrete slabs.
The auditorium is lined with metal trusses and composite concrete flooring.
The facade is ventilated with Omega-Z brand white bi-prestressed concrete panels. The panels' finish is textured, with letters of different alphabets arranged in bas relief.