Housing, facilities and historical memory in the La Model of the future

The municipal proposal for transforming the La Model into a citizen space includes a hundred and fifty public dwellings as well as educational, social, memorial, cultural and sports facilities, and a big 14,000 square-metre park. The project was established under a participatory process with the surrounding area’s local residents and entities.

04/12/2018 20:06 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

Reclaiming the former La Model prison as a citizen space is a city priority and a long-standing demand from local residents representing an opportunity for reducing the shortage in public housing, municipal services and greenery in Eixample. That district is the most densely populated in the city and has an urban heritage fabric that makes it hard to find new space there for public use.

Housing and facilities

The proposed future for the La Model provides for some one hundred and fifty publicly owned dwellings and an area of local facilities along the Nicaragua-Provença axis, which is to share a square that will be open to all local residents.

There will be a secondary school, a nursery school, an old people’s home and a day centre, a space for young people, a social- and solidarity economy space, a multi-sports centre and the La Model memorial space.

A green lung

The urban-nature shortage suffered by the Esquerra de l’Eixample neighbourhood will be reduced thanks to the new 14,000 square-metre open urban park to be built on the ground’s open space and which will connect the surrounding roads.

In addition, plants and trees will be the star attractions on the multi-sports centre’s roof and the schools’ galleries and playgrounds. A total of 19,900 square metres of public green space with areas for local residents to spend time in and walk along.

Memory and heritage

Conserving the heritage and historical memory is also a priority in the municipal proposal for the La Model’s future.

More specifically, the panopticon’s entire central space and fourth gallery, which will include a memorial space to act as an exhibitions and research centre on the former prison’s history.

What is more, traces, fragments and structural elements from the other galleries will be conserved and adapted to new uses.

Looking to 2022

The former prison’s future has been set out under a participatory process with the neighbourhood’s local residents and associations, as part of the work groups that will end up specifying the features for each of the spaces.

The La Model’s final Project will come under a new master plan to be ready in January. The coming year will see the creation of a new urban-development plan required for transforming former prison’s space and environment. Work is expected to commence towards the end of 2020.

The Budget for transforming the La Model is 94 million euros, 47 million of which as a municipal investment and the other 47 million from other authorities and associations.

From a symbol of repression to a space fully of life

Officially opened in 1904, the La Model was used as a prison for over a century, bearing witness to the city’s historical episodes, including the repression and the resistance-movements actions during the Franco dictatorship.

It was in June 2017, following decades of demands from local residents reclaiming the complex for the neighbourhood’s local needs, and under an agreement reached between the City Council and the Catalan regional government, which was responsable for the complex, that its prisoners were transferred out and the prison closed down.

Seven months later, and the La Model’s opened once more, in January 2018, and will never close again. Since then, the complex has been operating as a social and cultural dynamisation space, offering an ongoing programme of activities and exhibitions. Its facilities are open to visits from the public.

Further historical information on the La Model on the lamodel.barcelona website.

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