Firehouse Flip: Architecture Prof Earns Award For Museum Transformation

museum exterior

Miguel Roldán’s firm reimagined a Barcelona fire station as a museum.

By Richard Nira, Texas A&M University College of Architecture

The transformation of a landmark, picturesque Barcelona fire station into a museum showcasing the city’s firefighting history, earned Roldán + Berengué Architects, a firm co-led by Miguel Roldán, adjunct professor of architecture at Texas A&M, a 2017 Catalunya Construction Award for adaptive reuse of an existing building.

Roldán heads the Barcelona Architecture Center, one of the College of Architecture’s popular study abroad venues.

His firm turned the former fire station, built in 1929 and located in Barcelona’s Poble Sec neighborhood, into an expansive gallery that displays vintage firefighting vehicles, equipment, uniforms and an extensive collection of photographs.

In selecting the project for recognition, jurors called the firehouse an astonishing project that gives the building a new life and serves as an homage to the arduous, heroic task of Barcelona’s firefighters.

One of Roldán + Berengué’s main changes to the building was the addition of a new, three-story nave adjacent to the building’s central atrium that significantly added to the structure’s exhibition space.

museum interior

A rendering of the museum interior.

The new museum’s exhibit area displays more than a thousand, highly-varied pieces from the Barcelona Fire Service’s collection as well as interactive booths where visitors experience what it’s like to fight a fire or respond to other emergency situations.

The building transformation includes additional spaces forsymposiums, fire safety and prevention courses, and meetings of the city’s retired firefighters.

The honor is the latest in a long line of awards and praise for the firm, which Roldán operates with his design partner, Mercé Berengué.

In 2014, the firm’s design of the Catalonian Institute of Economists earned an award from Architecture, Interiors and Technical Solutions magazine.

museum interior

A rendering of the museum interior.

Roldán + Berengué’s design of a public housing tower in Barcelona earned praise in an article published in 2011 for creating an elegant building despite the strictures of Spanish government housing regulations.

“It’s hard to believe this is social housing,” said Rafael Gomez-Moriana, an adjunct associate professor of architecture at the University of Calgary’s environmental design program in Barcelona, in Mark, a design magazine.

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This story by Richard Nira originally appeared in ArchOne.


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