Originally established in 1856 Moritz lager was one of the first beers to be brewed on the Iberian Peninsula. Having gone out of production during the 1970s the beer was relaunched in 2004 by the original founder’s descendents capitalising on its iconic vintage status (but now actually produced in Saragossa). The commercial venture now culminates with the opening of this ambitious project that aims to locate Moritz beer at the focus of a cultural and gastronomic foundation inspired by similar projects around the world where emblematic beverages have established cultural associations with cities or regions.
Jean Nouvel the Pritzker award winning French architect (and designer of the Torre Agbar) was selected to bring this multifaceted project to fruition. Taking over ten years to build and covering an area of approximately 4,500 sq.m. the result is an intriguing and inventive new addition to Barcelona’s impressive cultural offering. Occupying the ground floor and basement of three contiguous buildings on the Ronda Sant Antoni the interior is a labyrinthine Chinese puzzle of interlocking spaces accommodating within its core more than a few jaw-dropping surprises. Including a museum, micro-brewery (where they make 60 hectoliters of fresh unpasteurized beer a year), several restaurants, shop, bakery and wine bar (featuring over 400 varieties) as well as exhibition spaces. Lager however is the common denominator to the Fábrica Moritz Barcelona (FMB).
The vintage vs. new theme has been maintained throughout, original floors, technical equipment and materials have not only been preserved but celebrated and given centre stage. This is not an historical conservation project however but rather feels familiar while at the same time being highly innovative. Lighting throughout provides the architect with some of the most striking features of the refurbishment, from elaborate reflective systems to bring light into the basement to the golden hue of artificial lighting that accurately recreates the warm tones of the eponymous beer. Albert Castellón, director of Moritz is the figure behind the initiative after having cut his teeth on the restoration of the Velódromo bar and restaurant a number of years ago which is also owned by Moritz.