I first came across Barcelona-based architect Ricardo Bofill in 2016. Little did I know that buildings made up of stunning colors and optical illusions existed in real life.
When I solo-traveled to Barcelona on the very first week of 2019, I tried to find out if I could tour WALDEN 7, Bofill's iconic design of an affordable apartment complex.
I went to www.walden7.com and sent an email of interest, expressing that I was a Bofill fan who would love a tour of the private resident building. Hours later, a lady named Olivella replied!
On the 3rd, I followed the directions of Google maps (thank god) and reached my destination after a few metro stops and bus transfers.
A few visitors were waiting already and we shivered in the January cold until our guide received us outside the lobby.
Olivella was a middle-aged lady with a clean hair cut. "You must not chit-chat or linger at any spot for too long. But you are allowed to take pictures." She made the rules and we followed them.
Built in 1975, the interior appeared worn. But the brave mixture of orange, blue and pink walls distracted us from the markings of time. I felt as though I was Princess Ida in the video game, Monument Valley (an iOS game popular around 2015). As Olivella led us through the massive maze-like structure, I was stunned by the building's brave colors and geometric abstractions, I didn't know where to look. I found myself immobilized by the mind of the architect, or any architect. In these moments, Olivell's military presence was not enough to get me off my feet.
On the roof, we stood by two pools that overlooked a community garden, perfectly symmetric and surprisingly empty. Bofill's studio-and-residence, La Fabrica, stood just a block away from his utopic apartment complex. What used to be a cement factory was now densely shrouded by tall trees, making it difficult for anyone curious. I was getting greedy and asked Olivella if it was possible to visit La Fabrica. She returned a stern look and answered, "You used to be able, too. Now? You can try. Not very possible."