Contemporary architecture right next to Barcelona

For a long time we believed that heritage was only a thing of the past, which is why we visited museums to explore it. But all you have to do is head out for a stroll to see that the streets house the biggest collection of them all. We suggest a route that goes beyond the historical façades of the streets of Barcelona, immortalised every day in thousands of selfies. The cities and towns close to the capital are also home to architectural jewels that make them well worth a visit.

Walden 7 building

On 16 October 1972, Sant Just Desvern City Council granted a building permit for the construction of the Walden 7 building. Ricardo Bofill’s team of architects called it a “dystopian building”. May ’68 was still fresh in everyone’s minds and Bofill, who had witnessed the events, wanted to bring the revolutionary spirit of Paris to Barcelona. In the 1970s the labyrinthine Walden 7 was a buzzing hive of artistic activity: concerts, workshops, reading sessions... But over the years the original owners left and the building began to grow more beautiful. 

The Three Chimneys of Sant Adrià

The Three Chimneys are the last vestige of what was once a much larger industrial complex: the thermal power station of Sant Adrià del Besòs. An example of the brutalist industrial architecture of the 1970s, the Three Chimneys are an icon of the Sant Adrià del Besòs skyline and have been described by local writer Javier Pérez Andújar as the “working-class Sagrada Família”. However, beyond being a beacon for local residents, letting them know they’ve arrived home, the Three Chimneys are the tallest construction on the Catalan coastline. Take a stroll around the area and find out for yourself.

Vall de Joan landfill site

The Vall de Joan landfill site was turned into a sprawling public park by the Batlle & Roig Arquitectes studio. Located in the Garraf Natural Park, between the towns of Gavà and Begues, the Vall de Joan landfill site, turned into a green lung with a combination of terraces and zigzagging slopes, is one of the least-known landscaped areas in the Barcelona area.

La Ricarda by Antonio Bonet 

Without travelling much further afield, we come to Prat de Llobregat, specifically to La Ricarda or Casa Gomis (after the owner’s surname). The construction of the house was carried out by correspondence, since the architect Antonio Bonet Castellana, who had been busy working on some projects in Uruguay, was living in Argentina at the time. La Ricarda was therefore a project completed from afar. All in all, it’s a fine example of rationalist architecture in Catalonia. During Franco’s dictatorship, La Ricarda was a refuge for Catalan intellectuals such as Antoni Tàpies, Joan Miró or Joan Brossa. The Tourism and Promotion Information Service of the Llobregat Delta organises guided tours, which must be booked ahead.

Mataró-Maresme Tecnocampus

This project, led by the prestigious architect Oriol Bohigas, is the newest construction in our list. The Mataró-Maresme Tecnocampus is a large university complex that combines academic areas with business incubators. The teaching area has a large courtyard overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The office area, business centres and an auditorium are housed in two buildings formed by two bare-brick cubes. An architectural boulevard with sea views.

More information:

Walden 7 building
Vall de Joan landfill site in Garraf
La Ricarda or Casa Gomis
Mataró-Maresme Tecnocampus