This building, transformed into a startling and charismatic watchtower in post-Olympic Barcelona and intended for independent elderly people who nevertheless require community services, was the winner of the City of Barcelona Prize to Architecture and Urban Development.
The project forms part of the development of some residual plots resulting from the construction of the Barcelona Ring Road in the year 1992 for the Olympic Games. The same site was intended to accommodate a sports centre, a residence and a block of supervised flats for the elderly, generating around it a public space that extends to define a square giving access to the different facilities.
The Torre Júlia, situated on Vía Favencia, with a strong presence over the north part of the city, rises to 17 floors in height and houses a suite of 77 flats, facilities and car parking.
The building is divided into three parts or communities of four floors each, and each community has in turn associated a larger space to it where the majority of communal activities are organised for the users. These spaces constitute the heart of the proposal and are expressed very clearly in its external image, working the entire concrete façade as if it were an embedded beam.
Wide corridors with vistas of the city, stairs running along the exterior, double spaces and a sunlit roof configure a building devised for the elderly to have the possibility of socialising in their own environment and of communally enjoying the various activities.
The spirit and formalisation of Torre Júlia recalls to some extent the Casa Bloc built between 1932 and 1939 with the socialising intention of dignifying workers’ homes. In that case it was also three young architects, Josep Lluis Sert, Josep Torres Clavé and Joan Baptista Subirana, members of the GATPAC collective, who revolutionised the concept of social housing by designing a building of rationalist traits that was ahead of its time.