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When top-down transformation becomes stuck halfway, as in the case of Barcelona‘s Valcarca neighbourhood, residents have an unexpected chance for bottom-up appropriation. Despite the crisis, finances could apparently accommodate the demolition of countless buildings – but not their reconstruction. Since then, neighbourhood activists in Valcarca have collaborated with urban planners and architects to convert the empty lots to community gardens, small stages and meeting places. However, the fate of these places when decision makers and investors are once again in possession of the necessary resources is foreseeable. Several kilometres north in Barcelona, the district 22@/Poblenou has already moved on to the next step. Post-industrial gentrification has already begun in the former „Manchester of Catalonia“. No smoke rises from the brick chimneys of former factories; today, they serve as nothing more than ornaments on buildings filled with loft offices.
Businesses and creative industry, cafés for hipsters and car mechanics coexist here. As
of yet, there is no consensus as to which groups have the right to use the public space:
„Tourists and the rich?! „The neighbourhood belongs to us!“