The battle for public space is taking place in Barcelona’s Plaza dels Angels | Catalonia

The Macba Building, seen from the Plaça dels Àngels area where a new building is due to be built to expand its facilities, on Friday.Albert Garcia

Neighbors Rafale Discover the grudges in a struggle, the extension From Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (MACPA)in Plaça dels Àngels, in a space classified as a green zone, which, from the perspective of the perspective, erroneously closed in 2019. The conflict embodies the battle for public space In a neighborhood of Barcelona that triples the average population density of the city and where it is located Structural deficiencies and the the needs of many of its inhabitants They are pressing.

before the epidemic, The Catalan capital attended the dispute over the construction of the ancient Misericòrdia church between, on the one hand, Professionals and Cap Rafale users They claimed it would expand the outpatient clinic (the current clinic is from the 1950s and gives no more than itself); On the other hand the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) to expand the cultural center. CAP Raval won an urban shuttle lace solution: the clinic would be built in the church (three years later, the business didn’t even have a start date) and The museum will grow in an elongated building on Plaça dels ÀngelsThe museum, attached to the old monastery that has housed the FAD since 2008, also uses the museum. MACBA is a public facility (government, Generalitat and city council) assembled in part private, and residents of the area accuse the center of turning its back on what is happening in the neighborhood. In 2019, the last perfectly normal event before the pandemic, it received 357,000 visitors, a number lower than other museums such as the Picasso, MNAC, Fundació Miró, CCCB or the History Museum.

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In order to allow the museum to build on land classified as a green area and to compensate for its loss, a urban modification (MPGM) unanimously approved by the city council in 2020. Plan Solve Loss of spaces in a formula that occupies neighbors: they are divided into three separate areas and on places that are actually public places, although they are classified as facilities or roads. They are the bar next to a building Richard Meyerthe platform on which the museum stands, a space he actually uses skaters. And a large part of Plaça de Bonsuccés is two hundred meters away. Once this plan is approved, a second, smaller plan plans to demolish the existing public toilets attached to the old monastery, which are used by approximately 300 people per day, many of them homeless in the region.

The area of ​​the current Plaza dels Àngels where a new building is planned for the Macba Extension, in Barcelona.  The two buildings, in the background and on the right, are part of the museum as well.
The area of ​​the current Plaza dels Àngels where a new building is planned for the Macba Extension, in Barcelona. The two buildings, in the background and on the right, are part of the museum as well. Albert Garcia

Last April, Xarxa Veïnal del Raval submitted an appeal to the administrative dispute to the High Court of Justice of Catalonia requesting the annulment of the MPGM. This week, they made allegations of the plan including the loss of bathrooms. “From the point of view of the public interest, it is undesirable to remove a thousand meters of public space in a neighborhood like Raval, this aggravates the situation, moreover, it is done in complete disregard of the rules and with an abuse of power in the interests of MACBA,” notes Ivo Ricoder. , Urban Planning Advocate of the Osorba Association. Xarxa’s boss, Carmela Toro, criticizes the fact that she “got this far without consulting neighbours, but received pressure from Macpa”. “How can you lose an inch of public space, even to a public facility? We cannot create a precedent. Is it true that we have not rehabilitated a place for CAP?”

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Discomfort reached that neighbors forced an extraordinary district council to county old City To demand the paralysis of a project that achieved the seemingly impossible: aligning neighbors with skaters. At the hearing, on October 28, Counsellor Jordi Rabasa He noted that the plan was approved unanimously and acknowledged that it “unfortunately has a counterpart.” “He had a consensus that the solutions were better than worse,” he admitted from an uncomfortable position: He is the advisor to residents and to the city council, one of the three departments that own MACPA. Municipal sources insist that the urban planner allowed Misericòrdia to win the clinic and that it was approved by all parties and the Generalitat.

A number of neighbors took the floor in the area to argue their refusal to expand. They said that they were tired of being the last person the administration would think about, which is what it is going through, and they lamented, for the interests of the restorer, the tourists, or the museum itself that he built, as they remember, It meant kicking out 200 neighbors and it’s already grown twice: in a building that should have been a public library or a monastery and Àngels, so that it encloses almost the entire square.

An area in Plaça de Bonsuccés designated as a road and an urban plan for the expansion of Macba in Plaça dels Àngels reclassified as a green area.
An area in Plaça de Bonsuccés designated as a road and an urban plan for the expansion of Macba in Plaça dels Àngels reclassified as a green area.Albert Garcia

the nurse Antonia Raya CAP recounted episodes of heat stroke due to last summer’s temperatures and emphasized that “it is a perversion to lose public spaces and turn what should be a green area into bricks.” Noria, of the neighborhood network, called for “a healthy environment and that our needs not be subordinated to the needs of visitors.” Carmen warned that the museum lives with its back to the neighborhood and other voices repeated that the museum’s sponsors are big companies, only to end up shouting: “No square meter for these people.” Caesar, guide Tourist Retired, he asserted: “In my 30-year career, no group has ever asked me to visit MACPA,” noting that if they wanted to expand, “they would stock up on private collections and reassess the works after they were shown.”

“We are the owners of public spaces, you are the managers,” Mar added. and Paul Martin, neighbor, skier and engineer specializing in skate parks, revealed the contradiction “that the city council says that the neighbors should be the center of the public space and that the Macba be expanded into a square”. He advocates no skating at night, but notes that Plaça dels Àngels is a universal reference for Ski, away from the negative image the group might have among part of the local neighborhood: “We’ve been skating in the field for nearly 30 years.” Santi Gonzalez, a neighborhood activist, took pains to list all the spaces Macpa owns (20,000 square meters of floor plan) and rents (eight, including the chapel, rooms, forum, terraces…), to conclude: “It doesn’t make you there. More to come, don’t bother us.”

From the museum director Elvira Dianjani Oseireplies: “The MACBA management has met with residents on the platform against the expansion on two occasions, but is also listening to other voices and collecting requests from other agents who are in trouble. The will is to be able to attend from the Museum, to the extent possible and within the scope of our corporate and civic responsibility. The museum team is already working to deliver and create a direct and healthy relationship on different levels with the Raval neighborhood.”

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