The modernist tower swallowed up by pop art

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Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
23 May 2023 Tuesday 22:52
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The modernist tower swallowed up by pop art

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia

Today I continue with the series of articles to publicize another of the missing buildings thanks to the carelessness of our municipal authorities and the excessive selfishness of our builders, they stripped the city of its modernist buildings.

On this occasion I focus on the tower of the industrialist Joaquim Pujol, ordered to be built in 1900 by the modernist architect Adolf Ruiz i Casamitjana, who, among other works, built in the city:

The site where the tower was built was located on the old esplanade of the current Plaça de Lesseps. Some uninhabited land on the outskirts of the town of Gracia, whose only important construction was the convent of Santa Maria de Gracia, belonging to the Discalced Carmelites, who had established themselves in 1626.

Taking advantage of the old bed of the old Vallcarca and Cassoles streams, the tower, built in a modernist style, was (like all buildings of the time) in which the land had a relative value. It had a splendid garden that completely surrounded it.

On a plan raised from the ground, Adolf Ruiz built the tower, which was reached from the garden, via stone stairs to a porch where the entrance door was located.

The porch was adorned by six columns that supported the terrace on the upper floor and that, at the bottom, were joined by a wrought iron railing.

The first floor, with a spectacular design, was protected by a stone railing that surrounded the entire house, in which a kind of terraces stood out (the construction of the building had been delayed a few meters).

On the terrace located above the entrance porch, Adolf Ruiz had built a brick lookout and glass doors so that its inhabitants could observe all the events, both festive and accidental, protected from the weather and the gaze of the public. people. This viewpoint at its top also had a terrace with a stone railing and a central ornament.

The second floor was surrounded by windows with the only exit to the outside of the aforementioned terrace, which served as a cover for the lower viewpoint and which was the only exit to the outside for the people residing on this floor and with the previously mentioned central ornament of the terrace and stone railing.

All the stone railings on the ground, first and second floors and the building enclosure were made with individual rounded and individually sculpted columns.

With the urbanization of Plaza Lesseps and its adjacent streets and the exacerbated passion for building large-scale buildings, by José María de Porcioles, during his tenure, which began in 1957 and ended in 1973, there were years of destroying modernist buildings in wings of the construction of new ones without any architectural quality. In the vein of building large-scale monsters, he authorized the demolition of the Joaquim Pujol Tower in 1971.

Porcioles authorized the demolition of the tower to build in its place a tome known as Edificio Azul, in whose basement the Drug Azul was installed in 1973.

It was a place, a kind of modern gallery, where you could find clothes, flowers, books, food and for those young progressives of the time, a hairdresser with a haircut made in Llongueras.

A distant memory from another era that vanished with the closure of the premises in 1979. It did not fully catch on with people's ideas.

Despite the criticisms that I am making of the new construction, the building made up of two blocks of different heights and built by the architect Albert Danés i Tejedor, presented a façade in which the white of the tubular railings stood out, on a façade made in blue cobalt, with woodwork and sgraffito forming thick lines reminiscent of the pop art style, made with the collaboration of Llucià Navarro i Rodon, for which they both won an important design award.

In 2014, the building was rehabilitated in order to restore its primitive splendor that restored the intensity of the blue, which had been losing over time.