dimecres, 9 de gener de 2013

The ancient Alchemika factory and the Factory of Steam

The city of Milan, like most western cities, is going through an important phase of economic, social and cultural change. This is a non-traumatic but definitely radical change.
The great industrial zones that surrounded the big cities like Milan and Barcelona, up to about ten years ago, with the small and medium sized companies that complemented their production, have shut down as a consequence of technological progress and changed market needs or have moved to other areas.
The areas that have been freed from this type of use are located in semi-central areas of the city, generally close to the public transport network.  In these areas are located factories that are used with new functions, equipment centers for the city: if in Barcelona a good example of this is the ancient Alchemika factory, now converted into a library, an infantil nursery school and a residence for elderly people; in Milan there is the Factory of Steam (La Fabbrica del Vapore) a large youth centre for artistic production and exposition.

In November 1985 the city council of the time drew up an agreement with the company Procaccini, within a subdivision plan that provided for the transfer of the entire area to the City and the demolition of some of the buildings. Over the years ideas for the use of the area have taken various directions.
Following the study carried out to identify new spaces to be used for activities for young people, the city council decided to modify the original agreement by organising the area and original buildings in such a way as to safeguard the basic architectural appearance, believed to be a precious example of industrial technology and allow the creation of a large youth centre for artistic production. What it wanted was to reclaim the abandoned industrial area situated in a central zone of the city, to create a centre for young people where they can test out their ideas and abilities in contact with business operators and experts from the various categories of cultural production.

Talking about the Factory of Steam we can also see a great similarity with the Hangar of Can Ricart because it has more or less the same function!

The reclamation of the buildings of the Factory of Steam takes into account the basic need to create extremely adaptable, flexible places that are suitable for the different functions. The overall surface area is about 30,000 square metres while the gross surface area of the buildings is about 14,000 square meters (7,000 square meters of this has been set aside for the activities planned for laboratories; and 7,000 to exhibition activities, shows, catering and additional services). It was decided to divide the spaces on the basis of completely self-sufficient, small sections defined as "workshop module". The around 90 modules were created on the basis of the large existing windows, and are 32 or 40 square meters and have been connected to the centre systems (water, drainage, electricity, telephone and data communication). The activities that take place inside The Steam Factory may use one or more modules.

A significant difference is that the Alchemika factory has undergone an almost complete reconstruction and very little remains of the old factory: we can see only the perimeter wall of brick of the original building and all the rest is completely new. On the other side The Steam Factory has maintained the shape and the structure of the old factory.
Both buildings are located on the corner of their districts and each one represents an important point of interest for the citizens.

 the Alchemika factory
the Factory of Steam
the original structure of the Factory of Steam 
 the original structure of the Factory of Steam

the original structure visible today
the perimeter wall of brick of the Alchemika factory
the new interior of Achemika