Can Sau: Emergency scenery
A Situationist mise-en-scène in Olot
The grand country houses of the 18th Century often had follies built on their lands. Structures that were simply meant to delight their aristocratic owners and provide a beautiful ruin or edifice in the landscape, a whimsical indulgence. Can Sua is like a modern urban version of a folly, a thing of beauty, a simple artefact which nevertheless manages to delight and intrigue. With multiple layers of readings, and modest materials the architects have managed to create urban poetry. A Situationist work of art installed within the streetscape of Olot, Girona. The following description was provided by unparelld’arquitectes, the project was nominated for a 2020 FAD award.
Can Sau was a residential property located within the old city centre of Olot, where nowadays it is not unusual to see vacant sites. Given that half of the building was affected by a future street alignment, it was demolished leaving an urban void characterised by a party wall and four stepped buttresses facing the side façade of the Iglesia del Tura (local Church) dedicated to the patron saint of Olot. Resulting in an urban environment characterised by abandoned lots, loss of definition, disfigurement and the destruction of the surrounding streetscape.
View of the party wall reimagined as Emergency scenery © José Hevia
The original buttress structure after demolistion of Can Sau
The visual artist Quim Domene carried out a number of interventions a posteriori within the niches, with elements allegorical to the history of the neighbourhood, © José Hevia
After being commissioned by the city council to come up with a new pavement treatment for the demolished site and taking advantage of an ongoing contract to provide waterproof metal cladding to the exposed buttresses, the project was reformulated. The allocation of resources to the vertical plane was considered a matter of urgency, and which apart from guaranteeing its waterproofing would lend the space a greater sense of urbanity. In a compact city like Olot the street façades shape the urban context and provide its character.
© José Hevia
An emergency mise-en-scène employing hollow brick was constructed that completes what the raw structural buttresses suggested, revealing traces of domestic activity in the background with their imprint on the party wall. A series of three vaults and four niches is offered to the public space as a three dimensional façade, further defined by the paving treatment. It is an unfinished and versatile structure which can be adapted to situations. The visual artist Quim Domene carried out a number of interventions a posteriori within the niches, with elements allegorical to the history of the neighbuorhood.
Night view, © Roger Serrat-Calvó
© José Hevia
The Iglesia del Tura, confined between narrow streets, now has a public space to its lateral façade, presided over by the closed-off door dating from the previous temple of the XV Century.
© Esteve Moner, 1904. Arxiu Comarcal de la Garrotxa. Col·lecció d’imatges de Josep Ma. Dou Camps
- Consolidation and adaptation of a party wall in the center of Olot, 2019
- unparelld'arquitectes: Eduard Callís, Guillem Moliner
- Quim Domene, visual artist