Bonavista talks with… Damián Ribas

vulpellac exterior

Damián Ribas comes from a family within 150 years track record in the construction sector, and leads Damián Ribas Architecture. His studio is responsible for the Vulpellac Residencial development, through which he has discovered the charm of this 900 neighbour village in the heart of the Baix Empordà’s golden triangle. Previously, Bonavista and the Barcelona architecture firm had collaborated on the Saüc12 single-family housing project, located in the Can Caralleu area in the exclusive Sarrià neighborhood.

Ribas is recognized for a thoughtful and considerate architectural style that reflects the lifestyle of its owners and blends into the surroundings through the use of local techniques and materials.

What possibilities does Baix Empordà offer?

It is very close to two major cities, Barcelona and Girona, a stunning and lively coastline, and an interior, “the Empordanet,” which is more tranquil but no less beautiful. It is renowned for its culture and gastronomy and its broad sports offer.

A place with a view.

Without a doubt, the Far Nomo in Llafranc, a restaurant with stunning views and a privileged location. The project allowed us to transform a building that historically had another use into a more playful space, which also houses a public space for local exhibitions.

A place that invites relaxation.

The Spa at Mas de Torrent Hotel. It allowed us to bring a different perspective to traditional spas. We annexed a building, with a spa area, to an already consolidated hotel. We were looking for a different kind of solution to other spas, which usually offer relaxing spaces in the basement, and we reversed the order. The result was a water area with natural light, connected to the outside.

And an address with designer or vintage furniture?

The vintage furniture store Última Parada, in Corçà. It makes me smile because it offers furniture from the fifties and sixties that has been carefully restored by craftsmen.

A town in Baix Empordà that has surprised you?

Vulpellac is the great unknown. I had passed through the village countless times and had never stopped to walk through its inner streets. I discovered a well-preserved, interesting, quiet, and historically rich medieval village.

A walk along the coast or in the mountains that stimulates your creativity.

The Camino de Ronda in winter, outside the high season or early in the morning. It is incomparable; there are few landscapes that are so wonderful, welcoming, and authentically Mediterranean. We hope it continues to preserve its natural and historical character for a long time.

What color is important in your projects?

I like the non-color and the texture of traditional materials. It goes beyond a color applied to something. Materiality as color, material as an expression of the place is one of the elements that harmonizes architecture with the environment.

What materials do you consider the most honest in a project in this area?

In the architecture we do, we seek to recover construction systems that are still valid today from traditional architecture. If the artisans who know how to apply them do not disappear, it is a very current way of building, adapted to the place and not very aggressive since the impact of transportation and the manufacture of certain construction systems considered modern entail a large carbon footprint. Preserving textures with a contemporary review, avoiding very technological and homogeneous appearances, enhancing the simple and useful, the imperfection of the natural as added value… The memory of traditional architecture is a nod that connects us emotionally in architecture since beauty is imperfect and authentic.

A technique or knowledge passed down from generation to generation that should not be lost.

Lime mortar, which is being recovered today. It has properties that we had lost. It is a very durable and elastic material, breathable. In addition to possessing a warm aesthetic and once again, a color characteristic of traditional architecture.

An international architect of reference.

Coderch remains so. He made the traditional modern. He valued traditional elements and translated them into a modern language without losing the warmth of tradition. Honest and modern architecture that did not renounce its origins; this is a vision that remains valid today.

A place in Empordà to get lost in search of inspiration.

Valldevià, another unknown little village that still preserves its essence. I have discovered it now even though I have probably crossed it or passed near it hundreds of times.

And a city that recharges your batteries?

Barcelona; I love my city: its dynamism, internationality, and marked Mediterranean character make me proud. At the same time, I also like the contrast of living in Barcelona and being able to be in a village like Vulpellac, on the Camino de Ronda, or in the Pyrenees in just over an hour, a wide variety of landscapes and architecture at hand.