With a dim light, almost gloomy, the silence is overwhelming in the old student residence of the Escola Industrial where until not long ago a party was lived in some of its rooms. Walking through its majestic corridors with modernist fountains included and observing the empty rooms transport the visitor to another time. Even the library remains as it was the day it was left with the glasses on the librarian's desk and it is not known if he has come to claim them.
With file cabinets, it highlights collections such as the weekly foreign policy and economy magazine Mundo with extensive reports on the Second World War or the Triunfo publication in which Manuel Vázquez Montalbán collaborated under the pseudonym Sixto Cámara. On one side of the library, a trolley bears witness to the latest consultations by the students, including a copy of Don Quixote de la Mancha or a general dictionary of the Spanish language.
The surprises do not end there. After going up the stairs with some colorful windows with the silhouettes of Balmes, Llull and Monturiol, one of the most unique spaces is hidden. Above the dining room, there is a chapel with parabolic arches and colored sgraffito on the brick wall. The temple was devised by one of the most outstanding disciples of Antoni Gaudí, the architect Joan Rubió i Bellver, who at the end of the 1920s carried out reforms in the building to give it new uses as a student residence.
Previously, the building was the headquarters of the Escola d'Agricultura, inaugurated in the 1912-1913 academic year when the south wing of the building was ready under the orders of the architect Bonaventura Conill. The center even had land with orchards for experimental crops.
In the basement, the gyms and cold rooms for storing food are still preserved, while on one side of the upper floor is the director's house, with an independent entrance to the outside. In this room, its modernist hydraulic floors and some trencadis benches with floral motifs that could be worthy of being located in Park Güell itself are striking.
After the closure last year of the Ramon Llull residence hall, the southern part will have a new life at the end of 2024 when the "embryo" of the future innovation center dedicated to public services will be located on the ground floor at first, which will later it will move to the engineering school pavilions as soon as they are conditioned, inform sources from the Barcelona Provincial Council, owner of the Industrial School. The other wing will continue as used until now by the Institut d'Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya and the School of Nursing of the UB until a new phase from 2027 undertakes a comprehensive reform to accommodate a residence for researchers and postdoctoral students with a capacity for a hundred seats.
Until that day arrives, the ground floor, previously used for the administrative staff of the student residence and dining room, has been set up for the next two years to take the exams for the stabilization tests for civil servants.
The future transformation of this building is part of a global project to convert the old factory site into a public innovation center, promote urban greenery and protect heritage after ruling out the option of expanding the Hospital Clínic in this space. The plan, named La Industrial, will be carried out in different phases and it is expected that the complex will be ready by 2030 with an investment of around 100 million euros. In fact, some of the work has begun and one of the first spaces for public use was recently inaugurated, the square of les Filadores, after removing part of the car parks on the corner of Comte d'Urgell and Rosselló.
The Escola Industrial occupies four blocks from the Eixample and its first life was as a textile factory dedicated to the production of cotton spinning and weaving. The enclosure was owned by the Batlló family with roots in Olot and had Rafael Guastavino as master builder, considered one of the architects of the Catalan volta, with examples of this type of architectural construction in the underground hypostyle hall of the enclosure.
The factory was launched in 1870 and had more than 2,000 workers, although it did not reach 20 years of life. In 1889 it closed permanently after a bomb exploded at the company's offices on the Rambla de Catalunya with Gran Via, which caused the death of an employee. oh! As for the chapel, it is studied that it can be visited by the public in the future.