Former Farm Building Refurbishment
OOIIO architecture refurbishes abandoned farm building in central Spain. When the architects started to build the project in Toledo, Spain, the design team had no idea how was it going to end up looking. This has been a project designed day after day on site, solving problems, creating an intense teamwork together with the client and the builders. The old building was full of surprises!.
OOIIO’s initial goal was to avoid the collapse of a group of former modest agricultural buildings used in the past as a hayloft, tool rooms, barn for mules, dog pounds, water well, kitchen for the workers and a cave used as ’fridge’ to keep the food fresh when there was no electricity or home appliances. The one thing in common among them all is that they’re cheap and functional structures used as farm work spaces with different pathologies, after more than 50 years of disuse and the passage of time and no maintenance.
Spanish based practice OOIIO Architecture‘s first interventions were purely structural reinforcements of roofs and falling adobe and brick walls. For it the architects followed the ancient techniques and respected the way those elements were built originally, understanding the way the builders worked those materials during their time.
The new is a sum to the old, so that the combination of new and old creates a mestizo building, rich in nuances and singularities. The old now expresses new things. The new, thanks to its combination with the old, is filled with intentionality and nuances. Both worlds follow the same language, but they bring different things.
Once OOIIO reached safe work conditions the project team started to get into details, taking the most important design decisions.
First, to communicate all the different originally divided spaces creating a large unitary space set. The architects demolished all the non-structural partitions, getting a huge and spectacular open space.
Second, to complete the facades closing up the envelope of the new large unitary space. On the former facades, in one side there was an existing brick wall made from beautiful ancient large bricks. It was collapsing due to the roof cover thrusts. The spanish practice convinced the client to not demolish it and decided to use brick as the only new added material for all the new walls, each time with a different rig, playing with the existing recovered brick wall and providing great richness in textures and finishes. In the region there is a long tradition with brick constructions and it is a material that works well with the local climate with very low maintenance needs. There are several brick factories just some kilometers away from the site. Hence, for the project it was the perfect material choice.
Third, to build a new ‘spatial connector’ that unifies with the only existing staircase going down to the cave. Although it is hard to imagine, despite there are three levels, one underground floor, ground floor and first floor, there were no stairs up to the haystack first floor. Workers used to go up climbing the wall, therefore OOIIO have added new stairs up linking all the vertical circulations in its newly built connector which ends up having a cylindrical shape, hugging a spiral staircase, reminding an agricultural tank made with bricks and new added elements. A shape that seems to be there from before, although never existed until now.
Fourth, to recover as much ancient architectural elements as possible. For instance, to repair all the ancient wood doors, clean and polish the beautiful old clay tiles with hundreds of years, repair and reinforce the damaged structural beams and columns, strip the ancient walls showing the original materials and its placement. It was a methodical work of archeology and architectural surgery reinterpreting the old and combining it with modern elements to get a new mestizo and special building.
Lastly, play with color and natural light to enhance the material games and combinations. after many years of disuse, painting again the walls with white lime paint suddenly was a blow of fresh air for the building. also, to pop up the refurbished structural works with new metallic columns and beams, OOIIO have colored with the traditional local indigo blue the original structural elements and painted in black the new structural ones. This chromatic code combinations show the way the structure is actually working and suddenly became the definitive final touch of personality to all the interiors.
The result of all this architectonic surgery work has been a patchwork of nuances and details rethinking the old and mixing it with the new, turning the result into a mosaic of nuances and details. A refurbishment planned on site to recover these ancient buildings that now shine with a new life.