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Gabriel Benet Campabadal factory
Carrer dels Comtes de Bell-lloc, Barcelona, Spain
associated engineer
Robert Maillart
Maillart & Cie
Pedro Vallcorba
date  1920 - 1924, 1931, 1951
UK era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  TX457622
Swiss concrete pioneer Robert Maillart used his characteristic structural economy to engineer an open-plan factory flooded with natural light for Spanish textile company Gabriel Benet Campabadal in Barcelona. The building was soon enlarged and has had several refurbishments and extensions since. It retains most of Maillart’s main hall and is now used as a centre for new digital technologies.
Robert Maillart (1872-1940) had established an office of Maillart & Cie in Barcelona in September 1913. The practice worked on industrial buildings such as the Pirelli cable factory at Villanueva y Geltrú (1914) and the Catalana de Gas y Electricidad power plant in Barcelona (1917). In 1920, he worked on two Spanish contracts — the Cotonoficio spinning mill in Badalona, and a textile hall for the Mata y Pons weaving mill in Sallent.
Before 1924, and possibly as early as 1920, Maillart was involved in the structural design of the Campadabal tape and ribbon factory in Barcelona. Gabriel Benet Campabadal (1888-1976) founded the textile company in 1916, with premises on Carrer de la Diputació and later at Carrer dels Comtes de Bell-lloc. The original factory on this site was a rather plain building, long and narrow with a pitched roof and three clerestory windows.
In February 1924, the public works committee of Barcelona’s constitutional city council granted permission for renovation and enlargement of the building. The result was practically a complete rebuild, with a new complex of five buildings filling the site, which is enclosed by Carrer dels Comtes de Bell-lloc to the west, Carrer de Novell to the north and Carrer d’Evaristo Arnús to the south.
The factory features a single storey main hall some 31m wide and 52m long, in which nearly 100 electric looms were housed, weaving a large range of silk and velvet ribbons, scarves and lace. Adjoining the south side of the hall, and at right angles to it, is a two storey building, 13m wide and 32m long. Goods entrances to the factory are on the east side of the site.
The nine-bay textile hall has an ingeniously-designed sawtooth roof profile, which is expressed on the street frontage. Support for the roof starts with an internal grid of reinforced concrete columns, square in section and set in four longitudinal rows. Where the columns meet the roof they fork to support it, becoming part of the roof structure — with long arms becoming rafters and shorter arms framing the glazed sections. Unusually, the sawtooth bays are shallowly pitched longitudinally, rising to the centre point of their length.
The sawtooth roof is clad in corrugated fibrocement sheet, with plastered finish to the ceilings below. The shorter, steeper glazed sides of the sawtooth bays provide north-facing skylights for natural daylighting and ventilation in the factory. The only other daylight comes from a line of porthole windows along the north and west walls.
Maillart & Cie worked with architect Antoni Pons i Domínguez (1884-1978) on this project. However, the textile hall interior displays Maillart’s distinctive pared-back style — slender columns and a roof structure without ties or trusses.
The Gabriel Benet Campabadal factory evidently was profitable. In December 1930, the company was given permission to expand the premises by remodelling, adding another storey and a pitched roof to the building fronting Carrer d’Evaristo Arnús. The work was carried out in 1931, by engineer Pedro Vallcorba, and provided space for more than 50 extra looms.
In November 1950, permission was granted for structural alterations. By this time, the company name had changed to Industrias Benet Campabadal SA. The work was designed by architect Lluís María Albin and completed 1951-2. The three bays at the south end of the 1924 main hall were completely rebuilt. Works included the construction of a basement beneath a vaulted floor with three storeys above, making a rectangular flat-roofed building with rows of square windows and plain façades. The 1931 building (on the south of the site) was remodelled to suit the new arrangement.
In 1957, further refurbishment and expansion was undertaken with Luís María Albín as architect. Some time between 1950 and 1957, a metal deck mezzanine was installed across the south end of the modified main hall, supported on steel columns and beams, with steel frames added to existing concrete columns.
The factory closed in about 1980. In 1989, the city council agreed to the south west corner of the complex being converted into a three-storey glass centre with project workshops and exhibition space (completed 1990).
In 2007, planning consent was granted to convert the remainder of the factory into a manufacturing ‘athenaeum’, with a requirement that the original sawtooth roof structure and main hall be retained. The renovation work preserves the façades, textures and colour schemes. The northern six bays of the main hall have been refurbished to Maillart’s original design.
The factory, re-opened in June 2013, is now a municipal laboratory facility that provides space and equipment for digital design and manufacturing, and 3D printing.
Architect: Antoni Pons i Domínguez
Architect (1950s): Lluís María Albín
Research: ECPK
"Anàlisi històrica i informe patrimonial de l’antiga fàbrica de cintes de Gabriel Benet Campabadal als carrers dels Comtes de Bell-lloc" by Antoni Vilanova and Mercè Tatjer, commissioned by Barcelona d’Infraestructures Municipals SA, Barcelona, October 2009

Gabriel Benet Campabadal factory