Design Notes Archive

Ricardo Bofill

Ricardo Bofill

In October 2015, House & Garden published an editorial highlighting the latest fabric collections that stopped us in our page-turning tracks. Not only did they weave together an enchanting visual story filled with pattern and colour, they did so in the most intriguing location. The pictures prompted us to email Creative Director (Interiors), Gabby Deeming, immediately. We had seen this stunning architecture before but where was it? What was it? We needed to know more. Turns out, they shot on location at La Muralla Roja, an apartment complex in the coastal city of Calpe, Spain. Renowned Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill completed the minimalist, multicoloured building in 1973. This year Bofill will celebrate his 80th birthday so we wanted to take a moment to revisit this exquisite body of work. 

Perched on a cliffside overlooking the Mediterranean, La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) is a study in colour and restraint. Bofill looked across the sea to North Africa for inspiration, citing its kasbahs, adobe towers, and the labyrinthine layout of its ancient cities as architectural reference points. The building has a wildly austere facade but within its walls, a complex series of intertwining stairs, bridges and courtyards connects 50 residential apartments. To delineate the spaces, Bofill pulled colours from the surrounding landscape. Outward facing surfaces are painted in tones of pink and red while interior courtyards and staircases are awash in shades of blue en homage to the sea and sky. All of these hues change with the light and offer up inspiration for anyone contemplating a palette of rich blocks of colour.   

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bofill’s own residence just outside Barcelona is a bastion of neutrals. Dubbed La Fábrica, it’s an abandoned cement factory that he turned into a studio and family home with nary a colour in sight. Think towering ceilings, simple white upholstery and drapery, and yes, lots of exposed concrete.  You can learn more about it in the book La Fábrica, recently released by Apartmento Publishing. For more on the collective works of Ricardo Bofill, Gestalten’s forthcoming book Ricardo Bofill: Visions of Architecture hits shelves next month but is available for pre-order on Amazon now. 

Photos © Sharyn Cairns for House & Garden; Ricardo Bofill