clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ferran Adrià Gets Approval to Transform Former El Bulli Building [UPDATED]

El Bulli 1846 will be a “research lab and exhibition space”

Ferran Adrià in front of El Bulli
Ferran Adrià outside of El Bulli in 2007.
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Ferran Adrià is making progress on his plans to repurpose the building and property that once was home to his groundbreaking modernist restaurant El Bulli. According to El Periódico, the Catalonia city of Girona’s planning commission (“la comisión territorial de urbanismo”) has approved the El Bulli Foundation’s plans to transform and reopen the El Bulli building. The chef called the news “fantásticaon Twitter.

This project, long known as El Bulli 1846, will be “a research lab and exhibition space,” Newsweek reported earlier this year. Per that report, El Bulli 1846 will also “host projects that, more than simply generating new ideas, are intended to improve the efficiency of the creative process.” Back in 2014, Adrià told audiences in New York City about the project, which Eater summarized as “a museum-style 7,000-square-meter space in Spain that will be dedicated to the history and theory of cuisine and open to the public. elBulliDNA will be a team of 30-40 of the ‘most creative chefs in the world,’ who will come to elBulli 1846 and work for 8 months, ‘dialoguing’ with journalists, architects, designers, and other creative types to ‘compare and share the creative process.’"

The El Bulli Foundation website had promised El Bulli 1846 would “become a living space from the end of 2016, where a team of 20 people will work for 6 months a year in creativity applied to gastronomy.” As it often is in Adrià world, the plans are pretty confusing and abstract, and it’s ultimately unclear how similar this current iteration of El Bulli 1846 is from the version the chef described three years ago, or from the plans laid out on the foundation’s website.

We do know that Adrià has been obsessed by the creative process in the years since closing El Bulli, investing his time and energy into projects like the massive culinary wiki/”internet tool” Bullipedia, not to mention that team’s work on "decoding the culinary genome" and “decoding creativity.”

It’s been a long and difficult road for Adrià. His ambitious projects in Catalonia have faced opposition from locals who didn’t want to see the chef and his foundation adding new buildings to the park space that was home to El Bulli. This new plan, which has received city approval, “includes new spaces that do not modify the original volume of the building nor increase the constructed surface” (Ed note: as translated from El Periódico by Google.) “Activity” should start in January 2018 — Eater has reached out to confirm whether this means building activity or public activity in the building.

Update 8/1/2017: An El Bulli Foundation rep sends the following clarifications:

About the works at elBulli1846, we will start the second phase on this coming October and hopefully we will finish them at the end of 2018. We expect then to be back in Cala Montjoi [in Girona] around the beginning of 2019, but we will need time to put in order everything and to organize ourselves properly, so it will be a work in progress launching.

Adrià told 7 Caníbales that “it may take 10 years for the new elBulli project to reach its maturity." (Ed note: Translation via Google.)

The rep also tells Eater that the team will likely be publishing books in the near future, and that the El Bulli Lab in Barcelona will is transforming into “La Bulliografia, our historic archive. We expect to appreciate the first step of this change in 3-4 months.”

Aprobado El Proyecto de Reforma del Nuevo Bulli en Roses [El Periódico]
Ferran Adrià on Closing elBulli, Starting a Foundation, and 'Decoding' Creativity [E]
Despite Protests, Ferran Adrià Still Wants to Build elBulli Museum on Protected Land [E]