Palo Alto

Dream factory


Not far from the coast, in a peaceful area of Poblenou, Barcelona, lies a huge industrial conglomerate that used to serve as a textile production plant as far back as 1875. The business passed from owner to owner, until it finally closed down due to extensive bombing in the area during the 1930s civil war.

The 1940s and 1950s saw a growth of isolated workshops being established in Palo Alto once again, but their existence was threatened by urban reform just before the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Somehow, the passion and will of local artists involved made their collective dream a reality, by combining their individual enterprises into one single foundation, and by protecting this urban island from development.

As I walk into the facility, I am charmed by the croak of frogs in a little pond, and struck by the beauty of the ivy and bougainvillea consuming the brick walls. Then I notice the chimneys, and the infinite number of stone blocks that comprise these cherished surroundings. I find the gardener and caretaker of this lush paradise tending a vegetable garden with such care. When I speak to him, he beams with pride, and his love of the trees and flowers is absolute. He is undoubtedly the custodian of the soul of this place, and without whom the stonework would not still be in its decades old unaltered state.

Now, Palo Alto remains a prime location for artists' studios, whose sensibilities must also have been touched by the character of this incredible place.