Perforated brick elevator by Carles Enrich connects medieval Spanish town to riverside

Spanish architect Carles Enrich has built a 20-metre-high elevator next to a Catalonian cliffside to connect the old and new parts of a town (+ slideshow).

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

Featuring walls of perforated brickwork, the elevator is located in the Gironella municipality of Spain, where an old town and a modernised urban area are divided by the Llobregat river.

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

"The 20-metre vertical break between the old and new parts of the town has generated a social fracture," said Enrich. "Over the years, the historic centre has been depopulated due to difficulties in accessibility."

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

"The proposal involves the insertion of a new access to the historic centre to enhance the urban connectivity between the two parts of the town, boosting the use of the old town and avoiding social exclusion," he continued.

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

Beforehand, the old town was only accessible via a steep and uneven staircase – something not suited to its older residents and families with young children.

Enrich hopes that his addition will increase footfall between a castle at the top of the cliff and a public square situated at its base.

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

While the elevator's top 16 metres are concealed within the three-sided brick lattice shaft, the base is encased by glazed walls.

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

The small circular perforations in the brickwork allow ventilation and light to pass through into the elevator carriage, which is glazed on all sides. This allows users a view of the red clay surface throughout the journey.

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

"The choice of this enclosure material responds, on the one hand, to its role as a solar filter, offering porosity, light entrance and ventilation to the elevator case," said Enrich.

"On the other hand, it dematerialises the case by letting the light go across it, provoking an appearance of lightness that contrasts with the opacity that it is shown in a farther point of view."

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

Numerous outdoor elevators have been built in recent years to improve connectivity in European cities, although they are more commonly built using steel rather than brick.

Examples include an 30-metre-high elevator in Pamplona by Ah Asociados and a 20-storey-high lift in Malta by Architecture Project.

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich

Carles Enrich established his Barcelona studio in 2009.

Past projects include a plywood box inserted into an early 20th-century property to create two additional rooms and an old laundry space converted into an apartment.

Photography is by Adrià Goula.

New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich
Site plan – click for larger image
New Access to Gironellas Historic Cente by Carles Enrich
Section – click for larger image