Work begins at Can Batlló
The transformation of the old Can Batlló factory, in the Barcelona neighborhood of La Bordeta (Sants-Montjuïc), is progressing little by little. The financial commitment of the Barcelona City Council to the neighbors , organized around the Recovery Platform Can Batlló , is to invest about 120,000 euros in repairing works of Block 11. It is the only ship already open to the neighborhood, which ‘conquered’ the neighbors by threatening to ‘squat’ if the majority ownership of the site, the real estate Gaudir, not yielded and unraveled the long-awaited remodeling plan.
The works begin this Monday, January 9, under the direction of a municipal architect
carried out by an external construction company and with a calendar agreed with the neighborhood. According to municipal sources, they will last two months and consist of repairing the ceramic roof, fixing dampness, improving the exterior insulation and removing two tanks. Simultaneously, four more workers began to work, former unemployed contracted with Occupation Plans of Barcelona Activa through Pla de Barris granted by the Generalitat to La Bordeta (2007-2012). The Platform will be able to count on them during six months so that they do technical works within the ceded ship.
Both groups will be accompanied by visits from several brigades of volunteer neighbors, who take all summer and autumn adapting interiors and accesses to advance slaughter and not have to go to tow the municipal tempo. Group afternoons and Saturdays that can and have the weekly supervision of a group of six young architects. Half are part of the collective of architects LaCol , who provides free advice on several neighborhood projects in Sants. The rest are two architecture students from Vallès and a Californian master’s student at UPC. “An interior designer of the neighborhood also collaborates with us, who has offered to project some of the most delicate rooms, such as the future Espai de Criança,” explains Pol Massoni, one of the oldest LaCol members in Can Batlló.
The direction of the works officially falls to a municipal architect
but Massoni controls the evolution of the arrangements and coordinates the work of external workers with that of the volunteers. “There are three different intervention scales – municipal, contracted and voluntary – that must be coordinated to save time, distributing the tasks according to their difficulty”, he describes. Volunteers do the simplest, such as painting, cleaning or dismantling useless elements, although some members of the Platform are paddles and plumbers and perform small more complicated jobs. The workers of the Occupation Plans are “specialists in various fields, qualified people, and are basically responsible for fixing the interior of the block,” says the architect. “The City Council focuses on the exteriors and the façade, because they are the most far-reaching works and those that concern them the most in terms of heritage”, remarks.
Three more ships and transfer of the library
Until Monday, and counting only with the brigades of volunteers, the neighborhood platform has already opened several spaces of Block 11. The popular library Josep Pons (with loan service, study room and reading club) was the first premiere, the 11th of June. They have enabled access from all doors of the ship and are almost ready a large living 300 m 2 used as Auditorium. “We have managed to give us three more ships, with entry from the street Amadeu Oller, baptized as ‘Margaret Astor’ because they were offices of this brand,” explains Jordi Soler, Platform Recuperem Can Batlló. “It is planned to throw them down but at the moment they serve us as a warehouse and many entities in the neighborhood also use them to store tools and material,” he adds.
During the first quarter of 2012, they plan to move the entire Library from the attic to the ground floor, so that they have more space, once the cleaning and painting of the plant has been completed. For Christmas they have closed a few days to give their volunteers vacations, but they reopen it after the holidays. It has 15,000 books (they do not accept more donations until February, because of the avalanche received), two retired neighbors who act as librarians every afternoon and dozens of volunteers who use cataloging by topic.
“It’s a lot of work but grateful, because it creates a cooperative spirit
people have fun feeling involved and we also avoid asking for grants and having to be constantly accountable”, explains this activist from La Bordeta. “We want to take responsibility for all the works we can do alone, although of course there are things that escape us and we need to make them the City as the owner of the ship, for example fix the cover or install the elevator,” he says. The assembly of the Platform will approve in February a model of self-management that stipulates how exactly they are organized to operate the future equipment and decide the programming of activities, which will begin in the spring. Among the previous proposals there are two exhibitions, theater, climbing, ballroom dancing and photography.