Les Aigues Library, a respectful renovation of a former urban water deposit in Barcelona.

March 21, 2015

The project, commisioned to architects Clotet and Paricio, uses prefabricated elements to locate rich and diverse spaces and reading areas along the 65meter-long vaulted structure. Originally built in 1874, the building is a roman-like construction with 12meter-high brickwork vaults.

 

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

 

Since 1999, the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona has had a new library, set up in a forgotten nineteenth-century water tank located in the heart of the city. The project, commisioned to architects Clotet and Paricio, uses prefabricated elements to locate rich and diverse spaces and reading areas along the 65meter-long vaulted structure. Originally built in 1874, the building is a roman-like construction with 12meter-high brickwork vaults.

 


 

The construction of Dipòsit de les Aigues dates back to 1874, built by Josep Fontserè , but it was not until 1880 when it was first used as a reservoir of water, with the purpose of regulating the flow of the waterfall in the park of Ciutadella as well as watering their gardens.

The then young student of architecture, Antoni Gaudí made ​​the structural calculations of the whole of the reservoir and its support elements .

It was constructed following a classical Roman prototype, formed by 1-meter thick, 14-meters high brick walls, intersecting with vaults and extending 65 meters, as if it were the effect of a mirror, supporting the large tank on top.

 

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

 

After one hundred years of different uses -old people’s home, storage for the fire brigade, car park for the local police department,  archive for the Court of Justice- it became property of the Pompeu Fabra University in 1992.The rehabilitation of the Water Tank  started in 1993 by architects Lluís Clotet and Ignacio Paricio.

The deposit is joined by an underground passage to the Jaume I building, but it did not start to work as a General University Library until 1999. The interior space is overwhelming. It is a quiet place, allowing to isolate oneself from the outside in a magical atmosphere.

 

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Simon García

 

 

Clotet and Paricio’s respectful intervention using prefabricated elements for the intermediate floors allows for dismantling of the whole intervention if needed.

These new levels favour the creation of very distinctive and diverse reading areas -ranging from spaces barely over 2 meters high  to others over 12 meters high, under the vaults- allowing each person to choose their own space according to their needs.

In 2009 the Les Aigues Library was awarded the “Decade Award” by Fundación Oscar Tusquets, which rewards the best work of architecture built in Barcelona 10 years after its completion .

 

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

Les Aigues Library, by Clotet+Aparicio © Carlos Garmendia

 

Project details

Architects Lluís Clotet Ballús – Ignacio Paricio Ansuátegui
Design partner: Jordi Julián Gené
Civil Engineer Santiago Loperena Jené
Civil engineering collaborator Javier Baqueró Rodríguez
Structural analysis and mechanical assesment  NB-35 (Jesús Jiménez) O.I.T. (Miquel Camps y Josep Martí Estelles)
Building company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas
Adress C/ Wellington, 50 08005 – Barcelona
Project start date 1992
Works beginning  1994
Works completion 1999
Measurements 5 floors high /  19.162 square meter

 

Photography by Carlos Garmendia and Simón García