Last month marked the official presentation of GOMILA project, the new residential project by GRAS Reynés Arquitectos together with the Dutch firm in one of the most iconic areas of Palma de Mallorca.
Promoted by the company DOAKI SLU, GOMILA project will mean a new life and a boost for an area that was abandoned and in decay, but that carries a lot of history for the people of Palma de Mallorca.
The interview to our director was televised by IB3 for the daily morning show ELS DEMATINES, in which Guillermo Reynés provides some light on the GOMILA project and his perspective on its development.
Take a look at the whole episode . (Spanish)
NEUS ALBIS: Yesterday we heard how the neighbors in the area have received the news, today we want to know more details about the project, so we greet Guillermo Reynes, who is the architect leading the project. Guillermo Reynés, very good morning.
GUILERMO REYNÉS: Hello, good morning.
NA: How would you define the intervention that is needed in an area of the square that, as we also saw in yesterday's pictures, is made up of nightlife venues that have been abandoned for years?
GR: The project is a performance in three buildings; one of them is the old "Gomila Center", where all the nightlife venues were, of which all the inhabitants of Palma have many memories. So, the first phase of the project is the restoration of this building together with the two surrounding constructions.
NA: So, in the end it will be turned into a two-storey buildings with 29 houses, commercial shops and the parking lot that already existed will also be restored, right?
GR: Exactly, that's right. It will be a project that will combine several programs: there will be commercial spaces on the first floor together with new housing. Thirteen apartments in the "Gomila Center" building and another 16 apartments on the two plots next door.
NA: Everything still remains unknown, the only thing we have for now are the images that we recorded just yesterday. We saw how the workers have begun to work, but it is clear that you, Guillermo, have much more information to know how this area will be when this project is finished. That is why I asked you: how would you define it? How would you explain it to the people who are seeing us now?
GR: Well, GOMILA is an important project. Although it is not on a very large scale, it is a project as I said before, that has a lot of history in Palma. The intention here, on the part of all those involved, that is my client, the architects -this project is made with a Dutch studio, my partners) is to return Gomila some of the glory it had in the past. To return to Palma this area that was abandoned, that has been in decay, and to give it a new air, a boost with new activities in accordance to the current neighborhood.
NA: And this Dutch study you refer to, with which you are collaborating, has it acted in other deteriorated areas of other cities in the world?
GR: Yes. The MVRDV studio, in which I worked for several years, is a Dutch studio - it is in Rotterdam- that works all over the world. They have done many projects similar to this one in Bordeaux, in Seoul; it is an international studio with a lot of experience in this field. Together with our local support, I think it is the right team to meet the needs of the neighborhood.
NA: And what time frame are we talking about, I mean, when will the project be finished? What deadline do you have, even though the dates may change later?
GR: The project has started now, as you saw and reported yesterday. A first phase could be finished in two or two and a half years more or less. Then the project will probably continue to grow, depending on how the neighborhood develops.
NA: Mostly yesterday, we heard how the neighbors celebrate the project but there are also some voices that are concerned about whether acting in the area will mean expelling the neighbors from it because of the increase in prices that it will bring. Can you invest in an area and restore it without causing the phenomenon known as gentrification?
GR: Yes, gentrification is a fact and it is a complex debate. In other words, reforming a neighborhood doesn't always have to mean gentrification, and even more so when our action is on a building that wasn't residential, was an abandoned low-quality leisure building, and the surrounding plots were also abandoned buildings. So, I think that anything that is to renovate, more in a residential project, and to give life to things that were dead, I think is always positive.
NA: On a personal level, what does this project mean to you? Which, as you said, is in the common mindset of many residents, including yourself.
GR: Obviously, it fills me with pride and satisfaction, and also with a great responsibility, because it is an opportunity -one of the few there are- that from architecture you can make a city. It is a project that goes beyond architecture and enters into the urban planning, a little, of an emblematic area in Palma.
NA: You were saying: naturally it depends on all the actors, all the voices and all those involved; also the city council. As an architect and as the person responsible for this project, what do you demand from the administration so that whatever is being done will turn out okay?
GR: The City Council, as you know, has its plan to rehabilitate all of El Ponent in Palma, especially in El Terreno Neighborhood, and we have been meeting with Joan Riera and his team several times. The City Council is doing its job and we are going in the same direction with them. The speed of private investment is sometimes different than public investment, but well, I think everything will come out okay and the neighborhood will change a lot in the coming years for the better.