Can Manyer, a Modernist puzzle

Today it’s a public library in Vilassar de Mar. The building is the former Manyer Ordeig textile factory, founded in 1879. This main nave was added in 1905, by architect Bonaventura Bassegoda, and the pavement is made of second-hand pieces of hydraulic tiles.

The entire first floor is a maze of tiles, spread on about 800 square meters. The reason for choosing hydraulic tiles lied in its remarcable resistance, and the reason for choosing second-hand pieces–meaning used or defectuous tiles–was only their attractive price.

There was no aesthetic imput whatsoever, thus the tiles were simply laid, without following any design criteria. Still, many of the models can be found in remarcable, carefully designed, early 20th century catalogues of Catalan tile manufacturers.

Some of the tiles have historic value, like the one below, in the center, with floral design on coral background, designed by Josep Pascó for Escofet, and which can be seen for instance at the Ferrer Modernist pharmacy (1904).

Some other tiles have a simple and economic design which made them be widely used, like the 8 rhomboidal flower with black and grey one below, for instance, which caught my attention because the floor of my living room is made with it.

The works of restauration of the factory and of converting it to library were carried out by Dilmé and Fabré architects in 2014. Can Manyer is one of the most carefully carried out works of its kind I’ve seen so far here, in Catalunya. Everything was studied in detail and, except for the shiny protective layer applied over the floor–which makes it look like glass and reflects the light in a way that hydraulic tiles would never do, in my opinion–it’s a beauty.

Besides the architectural works, the team also recreated, digitally, the puzzle of the floor discovering, among others, a special design, an allegory of the city of Barcelona, depicted as a woman, and made of several tiles, spread all throughout the space.

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