What to do with an old, grey and abandoned tobacco factory? You could try to find a new business to occupy the building. Or, you could transform it into luxury apartments. But, how about bringing some real color into its life?
Puerto Rican artist Sofia Maldonado decided to transform an old and abandoned tobacco factory in Puerto Rico into an explosively colorful canvas. She painted the walls, ceilings and floors both inside and outside the old factory with all sorts of bright and colorful drips, sprays and strokes. By doing so, she turned the building into a true piece of art.
The project, called Kalaña, is part of the larger collaboration Cromática: Caguas a Color, in which seven artists explore the overlap between art, community and abandoned architecture. Their goal is not only to beautify spaces and places, but also to give them more communal and social meaning with their aesthetic transformation.
Given this notion, for Maldonado, the Kalaña project is not finished simply because of its beauty treatment. Although its improved look makes the building feel more warm and welcoming, it eventually is about the buzz and energy that people give it. As she mentions: “The project itself is not only about painting the building. (…) It is a different format of how a public art piece can also become a creative and educational hub. The idea of the project is to inspire and open the door to different projects that re-use abandoned spaces.”
By opening up the space and making it more welcoming because of its new, inviting look, Kalaña attracts many people and creates a true community. Different events are being hosted, dialogues and conversations are being facilitated, and the building even houses a circular bike ramp. With all these social and playful functions, the old tobacco factory truly turned into an active space. It shows how art, community and (abandoned) space can mutually strenghten each other.