MVRDV and GRAS Reynés Arquitectos are transforming Palza Gomila in the neighbourhood of El Terreno in Palma, Mallorca. Their jointly designed plan renovates four existing buildings and adds three new ones to reinvigorate El Terreno as a vibrant, green, sustainable residential neighbourhood. Each of the buildings have their own unique character derived from their colours, materials, and rooflines, together forming a distinctive place that is in tune with the Mediterranean lifestyle.
El Terreno is based at the foot of the Bellver forest. A picturesque neighborhood with a rich history, where a lot of musicians, Hollywood stars and artists gathered at the famous restaurants, clubs. Robert Graves, Ruben Darío, Joan Miró, Gertrude Stein, D. H. Lawrence, Erwin Hubert, Camilo José Cela, Rubén Darío, Santiago Rusiñol, Wilson Pickett… The list of well-known individuals who have passed through El Terreno is endless.
In 1777 the first neighbor set foot in the neighborhood. He was the Cristóbal Vilella Royal House's painter, draftsman, and naturalist. Following him, Bourgeois and "Indianos" constructed colonial-style summer homes and villas with large gardens and exotic trees. The Gomila family, who immigrated from the Antilles at the end of the 19th century, built a home in El Terreno and donated the front part to the Town Hall so that children of the neighborhood could play there. It was known as "sa Plaçeta”. Today this is Plaza Gomila. The first hotel in the neighborhood, Reina Victoria opened its doors in 1910. The Hotel Mediterráneo followed in 1923. El Terreno became an area of tourists, famous hotels and freedom.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, El Terreno served as the backdrop of a carefree Europe that enjoyed itself and had fun. A place of worship that was visited by many artists, intellectuals and bohemians, attractingy the modern cosmopolitan fun that was experienced in its bars and nightclubs. El Patio, Tito's, Barbarela, Monaco bar, convertibles, dry martinis, Sgt. Pepper's, silk shirts, high boots, Ava Gardner or Errol Flynn. The Chotis bar, the Joe's bar, Robert Graves, Aristotle Onassis, Marlene Dietrich, the Camilo José Cela meetings, the Jimmy Hendrix concert, the Wilson Picket concert, the Ray Charles concert or the B. B. King concert.
The Fluxà Family, owners of the Mallorca-based Camper shoe brand, purchased a series of neighbouring plots around the Plaza and asked MVRDV and GRAS Reynés Arquitectos to develop a renewal plan that echoed Camper’s philosophy of combining heritage with innovation and creativity.
“Gomila Mallorca is not just a mass of buildings; it is a concept that adds value to the neighbourhood via an effective public-private venture, including a unique residential housing project”, says the Fluxà family. “It restores the identity of the community square, which was a centre of avant-garde nightlife from the 1950s to the 1980s before slowly deteriorating and fading from relevance.”
The seven diverse buildings, each executed in a different colour and material, add 60 rental homes in a variety of styles and sizes intended for local inhabitants who work in the surrounding area, as well as additional commercial space. The many bright colours, emphasised by the Mediterranean sun, advertise the vibrancy and rejuvenation of the neighbourhood. Each of the buildings brings not only its own character, but also unique amenities, with facilities such as restaurants and bars being public while amenities such as pools are accessible to residents of all buildings within the plan.
“The project goes beyond architecture or building design”, says Guillermo Reynés, the founder of GRAS Reynés Arquitectos and a native of Palma de Mallorca. “It creates a sense of community, a ‘Gomila belonging’ – something that has been missing for a long time in this part of the city but that has always been present in the memory of generations of Palmesanos. It is a unique opportunity, and a challenge that also brings a lot of responsibility.”
Five of the buildings of Gomila Mallorca are already finished. The largest building, at the heart of the ensemble, is the Gomila Center, a renovation of a 1979 design. Also included in the first phase is Las Fabri-Casas, a set of blue row houses with a saw-tooth roof, the red townhouses known as Las Casitas, a sustainable apartment building built in rammed earth and, directly adjacent to Plaza Gomila, the green building simply named La Plaza, which transforms an existing building.
A later phase will add two further buildings to the ensemble: the yellow Casa Virginia, and a small construction next to the Gomila Center, both renovations of existing neighbourhood buildings.
The resulting designs, collectively named Gomila Mallorca, aim to recover the essence of a neighbourhood that occupies a lasting place in the memory of many Mallorcans.