Dreams and Manifestos: The Architectural Vision of Ricardo Bofill

For more than a half-century, postmodernist architect Ricardo Bofill has brought his surreal visions to life. See some of his most breathtaking creations.
Dreams and Manifestos: The Architectural Vision of Ricardo Bofill Photo Gregori Civera / courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura, Ricardo Bofill, gestalten 2019

The new monograph Ricardo Bofill: Visions of Architecture (Gestalten, $69) celebrates the Spanish architect's mindbending creations. Below, writer Tom Morris shares his introduction for the book.

From the desert to the city, from critical regionalism to classical post-modernism, Ricardo Bofill's career has spanned a vast and ambitious trajectory. What has remained constant throughout is his confident, singular vision of how buildings can better human behavior.

If theatricality is the term most often used in relation to the dramatic and daring buildings of Ricardo Bofill, then it is fitting he has played so many different characters throughout his career: the rebel, the nomad, the genius, the master. His persona has slipped and slid over the course of almost eight decades, elusively avoiding definition. So too has the work of his practice, the Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura, which has long resisted a recognizable style.

Since a 23-year-old Bofill established the workshop with a troop of like-minded architects, sociologists, poets, and writers in the 1960s, it has authored more than 100 projects in approximately 50 countries around the world. From its early beginnings creating madcap housing projects inspired by vernacular architecture and critical regionalism in Spain to its postmodern period in the 1980s in France, through to the high-tech glass and-steel modernity of the 1990s and 2000s, practiced internationally, the Taller has also moved, developed, and grown. It has done so with one constant: its home at La Fábrica (see pages 236–72), the iconic castle that Bofill and his peers created out of a disused cement factory on the outskirts of Barcelona in the early 1970s.

Like the studio, the factory has grown and matured, mellowed by planting and surrounded comfortably by new buildings. Like the Taller, the germ of the avant-garde is still easily detectable in its epic proportions, bold sculptural shapes, and the multidisciplinary functions it serves. Designed as a manifesto, La Fábrica is still symbolic of Bofill's resolutely pioneering persona: boldly forward thinking and resolutely ever changing.

Ricardo Bofill: Visions of Architecture (Gestalten, $69) is out now. Below, see some of Bofill's surreal constructions.

Dreams and Manifestos - An Architectural Vision COVER
Photo courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura, Ricardo Bofill, gestalten 2019