Skip to main content


Award category
Regenerated urban and rural spaces
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS : existing completed examples
Project title
Full project title
La Fábrika, a factory for dreams
After being abandoned for years, an old cement factory is now a collaborative space for free culture.  Located in a rural municipality of Spain, La Fábrika has become a landmark for an open network of creators, thinkers and social agents throughout the territory. Over the course of our ten years of activity, more than 3.000 people have contributed to regenerate the space.  Together we build, meet and explore. 
Where was your project implemented in the EU?
Calle Paraje La Nava, s/n
Los Santos de Maimona
When was your project implemented?
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Which programme(s) or fund(s)? Provide the name of the programme(s)/fund(s), the strand/action line as relevant and the year.

We supported by Interreg programme, on the strand social innovation in 2016

Please provide a summary of your project
La Fábrika has always been the name of the old cement factory of Los Santos. It was built in the 1950’s in a small municipality in the rural region of Extremadura, south-west of Spain. After being abandoned for years, La Fábrika is now a collaborative space for free culture. It is also a community that has been committed to regenerating the space for the last ten years. After recovering most of the main building by different collective processes and methodologies, La Fábrika has become a landmark for an open network of creators, thinkers and social agents throughout the territory. The heritage site hosts different satellite projects and initiatives, together with five permanent programmes:  Cine al Fresco: an open-air independent cinema. People bring their own chairs, we take care of the rest. La Kacharrería, located in a recently restored warehouse for reused materials, functions as a co-learning workshop that focuses on sustainable building and collective creation for arts and architecture.  SiempreViva is in charge of bringing back the vegetation to the surroundings of the factory and  regenerating the polluted soil. Corralón Records, the cooperative music netlabel of LFDTV, has been created as a platform to promote young artists with sounds and narratives from the rural context. Autopías is the laboratory of formation and applied investigation, a project that aims to incorporate the philosophy of the “good living” in our everyday lives.  We are in an ongoing process of building relationships, rebuilding the space and rethinking our methodologies. Therefore, a fundamental part of defining what we are relates to others, as we work in a dynamic and open network of diverse agents. Engagement has been key to the transformation of the physical and philosophical dimensions of La Fábrika. We collaborate with people from inside and outside our territory; from local entities to international collectives.
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability and how these have been met
Our initiative has brought a new life to an existing building by finding creative solutions to work with resources. From the very start, La Fábrika has evolved around the concept of reuse: all the original infrastructures of the factory have been kept and rethinked. An environmentally friendly attitude is key to our methods and  aesthetics. The reconstruction process has mainly been done with donated and recycled materials, either from local apportations or from organisations that redistribute supplies for reuse. Together with the employment of transformed objects, wood is present in most of the interventions as an organic element.  We have an environmental mission in the territory. After years of heavy metal disposals in the area, the project Siempre Viva is committed to the restoration of the contaminated soil and to bring the vegetation back to the outdoors area. In order to regenerate the soil, Siempre Viva is growing a mediterranean forest that, in the long run, will purify the polluted grounds. While the terrains become healthy, we are growing a vegetable garden in parterres and cultivating aromatic plants. To support our gardens, we collect compost from the members of the community and make open calls to gather the materials needed, such as soil, seeds or plant donations.   We have developed a sustainable economic approach to our project. The reconstruction is entirely self-funded by the collective through crowdfunding and smaller amounts of money from awards and grants, such as the EU-funded INTERREG program. Also, we believe we can maintain our economies by small collaborations, so during workshops and events, we have a small bar that helps raise money for the everyday expenses of the place.
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met
The building of La Fábrika was created during the Francoist period, in order to supply with cement the government’s construction plans for the region. Once the works were finished, the factory was abandoned, leaving unattended for decades the remains of a vast industrial complex of buildings. Even though it was just an empty space in the outskirts of the village, it never disappeared from the imaginary of the local population. The tower, a powerful symbol of a brutalist aesthetic, is the highest building in the village and can be seen from practically everywhere in town. La Fábrika aims to reappropriate that landmark, filling it with new meanings and dynamics.  Art is present in our actions and beauty is considered in and out of our processes and projects. The development of arts has fuelled the restoration and maintenance of the space.The beauty of the decadent landscape works as a booster for inspiration and creativity without rules, for community members, but also for visitors – one can often find fiancées taking their wedding photo shoot with graffiti murals or cement silos in the background.    We find beauty and joy as one of the most engaging sources for newcomers. People come to live the experience of La Fábrika and are carried away by inspiration and collectivity. This is the reason why we place so much emphasis on the importance in the relational part of our project. Slowly building a community requires patience, listening, and care. In that sense, we organise ourselves flexibly, because we are trying to create a sustainable human infrastructure that is resilient to changes, reformulations and renovation of the members. Los Santos is a peaceful village, away from the frantic speed of the city. That allows time to enjoy processes, celebrate success, and connect with each other.
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion and how these have been met
La Fábrika seeks to give access to free culture, ideas and resources in our territory. We are a horizontal and open organisation. Collaboration is at our core values, so we propose an open hub where everyone can freely engage with social activities. In fact, we believe in networking as a methodology. By 2015, more than 1.500 people had passed through La Fábrika and made an apportation to the space. We have found that building together is a powerful tool to create community.  We are always committed to creating space for everyone in La Fábrika. That is why inclusion is cross-sectional in our projects. The initiative Cine al Fresco not only shows films engaged with social causes, but also gives room for people to discuss it in an open debate. Through this activity we bring the people from the town closer to social matters that are important to us. Last summer we watched documentaries regarding disabilities, like Yes we fuck or King Ray, and the feminist scene in Spain, pictured in Fabricando Mujeres and Les Resilients. We want to create sustainable opportunities for growth and livelihood in our community. Depopulation and unemployment have a direct impact on the younger generations of the region. This group is also affected by a lack of culture, means and initiatives. Our aim is to bring culture closer to them. To do that, we organise and host a variety of events and workshops that are open and free for locals and people from outside the region. Through these activities, we also want to provide tools and strategies for them to create their own cultural expressions. For example, we are headquarters of an inclusive summer camp in collaboration with the association La Kalle from. Thanks to this, a group of teenagers at risk of exclusion can spend a week in La Fábrika experimenting with music, art and construction.  
Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for
For 10 years, we have breadth life into a building by activating social and creative processes to build spaces together. International entities such as Open Heritage, Urban Maestro, and Cooperative City have highlighted La Fábrika as a case study for exemplary practices in heritage regeneration.  Finding legal frames for regenerated abandoned spaces is one of the biggest challenges for  these types of centers. In fact, they often remain illegal because of conflicts of interest around territory and property. However, la Fábrika, which was initially occupied, came to a cession agreement with the local government to manage the space. In return, we committed to create activities for the village and to restore the main building of the factory, as well as fulfilling legal obligations.  Along the process, starting in 2009, people from more than 20 countries have been involved, among them 30 national collectives and 25 international collectives. Those numbers, together with the civic participation, sums more than 3.000 people who have collaborated with La Fábrika in different ways. A lot of work has been done and now, we are only one step away from completing that process. From La Kacharrería, we just launched a crowdfunding to finance our last structural work: fixing the rooftop of the left unit building.  These initiatives have a significant impact on how younger people from Los Santos feel about their hometown, as well as on the projection of the village to the outside. Find the case of Leon, an urbanism student that learnt about the project in class, in his home university in Germany. He has reached us and has just moved to Los Santos to start his Erasmus internship in La Fábrika.   
Please explain the way citizens benefiting from or affected by the project and civil society have been involved in the project and what has been the impact of this involvement on the project
La Fábrika is a free, open and participatory project where anyone, with their needs or ideas is welcome. The association is managed by a group of around 10 people, but more than a thousand people from different places of the world have participated in the creation process. La Fábrika is called to be a public service, which means that everyone can benefit from the space and the services. However, the public in our project are mostly young people from the area, especially those with interest in art and social issues. People from all over the province, especially from nearby municipalities attend the events and activities in the program. We develop a cultural agenda encouraged by the members and visitors of La Fábrika. It includes the music studio Corralón Records, cinema, art, collaborative building or dance, among other cultural activities.  For the locality, La Fábrika brings departed, young community members back home to share what they have learned out in the world. Establishing connections worldwide means that returning back to Los Santos is not stepping back in time. The town is not irrelevant and, in fact, it can now offer more diversity of experience than ever before. The reconstruction and management processes mainly rely on the social and human capital of the project, as well as on the engagement of the locals, where more than 3.000 people have taken action. This is exactly what makes La Fábrika relevant on an international level, despite its rural and isolated physical location. This community is what attracts new people to this space of possibility. The collective encourages people to come from outside, be inspired by what they see, share their insights and skills and give back to the local community, thereby further expanding the town’s network.
Please highlight the innovative character of the project
La Fábrika has opened up the possibility of something new in an area that has not experienced any kind of cultural, economic or demographic growth in recent generations. This means the possibility of identifying what the community needs and brainstorming in a creative, collaborative and constructive way to bring about change.  Due to the uprising problem of rural depopulation, La Fábrika offers new perspectives to confront the lack of cultural and social opportunities, especially for young people. By creating a collaborative space, we are contributing to find specific solutions to the territorial challenges of Los Santos and surrounding areas. Permanence is essentially our strongest position of resistance. The biggest impact of La Fábrika is believing there are ways to do new things, and creating the possibilities for them to become true. We find creative solutions to our needs, basing our strategies on shared knowledge, civic participation and the reuse of materials. Dreaming together about the future of our territory is key to our process.   We believe in cooperation and simplicity as a strong way of constructing common places.  Slowly, we move towards that direction, facing challenges step by step. Our methodology is experimental and simple: projection, reflection and construction. External help is only required for financial issues.This reinforces our working structure by supporting collaborative activities. With this method, we are trying to create a sustainable network opened to alternative perspectives
Please explain how the project led to results or learnings which could be transferred to other interested parties
The progress of the project has been shaped by learning from other similar processes and experiences around Europe. We are part of international networks such as Arquitecturas Colectivas, a collective that meets annually to share good practices for urban and rural regeneration. In those encounters we put together replicable solutions and tools to face mutual problems.  The open character of the space promotes the exchange of ideas. For instance, if we organise a talk and 50 people come, this opens up the margins of the community and new possibilities arise for the concept to be replicated, in a free and open way.  Reaching a completely different community, the stream of ideas is mixed and can be integrated directly in a laboratory of practice that is collaborative, shared and welcoming, just like La Fábrika itself. We aim to share our experience even further. Currently, we are working on La Fábrika’s archive, a compilation of investigations, tools and methods that have been key to our process and our learnings. For example, La Kacharrería uploads the designs and materials needed for DIY furniture. Moreover, our website has been recently renewed, in order to make our experiences more accessible to others. It includes an online form where people can ask questions and make proposals that we always keep an eye on.    
Is an evaluation report or any relevant independent evaluation source available?
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that the proposed project has not been proposed for the Awards more than once under the same category and that it has not been subject to any type of investigation, which could lead to a financial correction because of irregularities or fraud.


In order to submit your project, please make sure you have filled in all the mandatory fields marked with *, in both the “Basic information” and “Description of the project” tabs.


The country you have selected is not a Member State of the EU.

Please select the country your project was either implemented in the EU for Strand A in or is being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU for Strand B.