The Visual Charisma Of Bofill’s Social Housing Complex
‘Walden 7’ is the Spanish social housing complex, designed by famed architect Ricardo Bofill, that blends complex design details with an abundance of color. Architectural photographer Pauline Chardin shows the distinguished space through her own lens.
Constructed in 1975 on the site of a former cement factory, the subsidized housing complex represents Bofill’s architectural genius. To this day, the project provides stimulating community life through its labyrinth of 14-storeys with five courtyards, and 446 apartments with terracotta balconies. A majority of apartments face both out towards the sea and in towards the courtyards, and can be accessed by a maze of walkways, bridges and stairs that allow residents a multitude of perspectives. Speaking of her first-time experience at ‘Walden 7’, Chardin explains that scale was the first thing to sun her. “It starts with the fortress-like silhouette, impossibly high and thin, that follows a complex network of lines stretching in every direction”, she notes. “Pretty soon you’re disoriented, stunned by the complexity of the inner structure. It’s like walking inside a box where all the pieces seem to move around you. Every corridor seems familiar, yet everything is different, you go up, you go down, you take a few turns and you’re as good as lost”.