Groundbreaking Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill dies aged 82

Known for fusing otherworldly architecture and lofty ideas, Bofill leaves behind a legacy of incredible buildings

ricardo bofill, architect  photo by quim llenascovergetty images
Quim Llenas/Getty images

Three historic portraits of the great Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, posted on the Instagram feed of his studio Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura (RBTA), announced to the world his death today, 14 January 2022, at the age of 83.

Born in Barcelona in December 1939, the legendary architect began his career studying at an architecture school in his home city. In an early show of the political leanings that would later define much of his work, he was kicked out for opposing Franco’s dictatorship, before moving to continue his studies at the Geneva University of Art and Design in Switzerland.

ricardo bofill’s la muralla roja
Ricardo Bofill’s La Muralla Roja
Jeanette Hägglund

In 1963 he founded RBTA (at the age of just 23) and quickly became known for his projects that are characterised by their scale, complexity and optimism. One of his early works, La Muralla Roja, a postmodernist seaside fortress containing 50 homes on the cliff’s of Spain’s Costa Brava, set out the radical style that would define his career.

Later projects, such as the Walden 7 in Catalonia and Les Espaces d'Abraxas housing complex near Paris (so striking it was chosen as the backdrop for scenes in dystopian film franchise The Hunger Games) would continue Bofill’s interest in creating unique public housing.

ricardo bofill’s les espaces d'abraxa on the outskirts of paris
Ricardo Bofill’s Les Espaces d’Abraxa on the outskirts of Paris

His own home and studio La Fábrica, located just outside Barcelona, is no less groundbreaking. A former cement factory, the property retains its industrial majesty – he once described it as being ‘something halfway between a ruin and a cloister’.

More recent work, such as the sail-shaped W Hotel in Barcelona, completed in 2009, and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco, opened in 2016, showed a continued desire to push the boundaries of architecture.

Bofill leaves behind two sons, Ricardo Emilio Bofill and Pablo Bofill, both of whom have worked at Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura.

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