The old Can Ricart factory in Poblenou is looking for a new opportunity. The historic industrial site, which occupies a space equivalent to four islands of the Eixample, has suffered all kinds of vicissitudes since it was saved in extremis after an intense neighborhood struggle. Arson, occupations, demolitions and even frustrated projects such as the House of Languages have burdened the resurgence of this industrial site. Now new projects want to revitalize this historic space, declared a Cultural Asset of National Interest in 2008.
The District of Sant Martí constituted last February 23 for the first time the work table of Can Ricart which was attended by representatives of the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), the Eje Pere IV Board, the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona, the art center Hangar, the youth group La Xemeneia, the Association of Neighbors of Poblenou and the European research project Emuve. This common front wants to recover part of the splendor of this factory that has deteriorated by leaps and bounds over the years.
The slow revival of Can Ricart has as a fundamental project the future park of the Humanities and Social Sciences of the UB that is scheduled to start its works later this year or early 2017. The project, which has 7,000 square meters ceded by the City Council for 50 years to the university, is pending the report of the results of the archaeological excavations, there are Roman ruins in the site, and the development of a special plan to be developed throughout this year.
We hope that in 2020 the university park will be consolidated “
“We hope that in 2020 the park will be consolidated. If it is not finished, it should be very advanced by the end of 2019. We believe that at the end of 2017 we could have some elements of the park, the library building would already be very advanced or finished, or the space that would house audiovisual production, ” Gaspar details. Coll , delegate of the rector of the UB for the park of the Humanities and Social Sciences that will mean an expected investment of 15 million euros . “We are working together with all the agents and the UB is a more supportive agent in the neighborhood to help dignify Can Ricart, but the responsibility is not ours alone”, warns Coll.
The City Council takes note and one of its priorities is to dignify this space and to value the industrial heritage of this place as a whole. “Can Ricart is very important, it is one of the few large industrial complexes that remains in Barcelona next to Can Batlló in Sants and Can Batlló in Urgell, and it is also close to the Pere IV axis, which we are revitalizing and construction will soon start. make it more green and pedestrian “, highlights the councilor of the District of Sant Martí and architect, Josep Maria Montaner .
While waiting for the archaeological results made in the ship called Exempt in the Emilia Coranty, Montaner foresees that “the works do not have to be affected” and in the case that any piece of historical value was found, “it would be moved to a museum” .
Audiovisual production, library and coworking
The governing delegate of the UB for the Humanities and Social Sciences Park points out that they are still in the phase of “specifying the spaces that will be reflected in the framework document”, but the uses that will be given in the different buildings are on track. Thus, in the ship Exempt is expected to host part of the historical library of the UB, specifically that of incunabula and some manuscripts. There would also be a digital documentation center that “would be related to the neighborhood and other distributions” that would be available to researchers.
Another large space would be devoted to audiovisual communication technologies. “It is planned in some of the ships to make a set that can be offered even to the private sector and help the park’s own financing,” Coll adds.
The third large sector of the park would boost a coworking space with research groups, “a kind of incubator of our research projects and also social entrepreneurship”, says the UB spokesman, who has already launched its digitalization center in another space of Poblenou, in the old factory of Can Jaumandreu , also pending some reform and that makes up the other leg of the university park of the UB.
New Casal de Joves and historical interpretation centers
In addition to the surviving creation center of Visual Arts Hangar, which has rehabilitated buildings, the park of the UB will be accompanied by the new Casal de Joves , which will be managed by the coordinator of youth entities La Xemeneia. In this space has been enabled a meeting room of the Pere IV Axis and is also in “negotiations”, as noted by the council of Sant Martí, so that part of the activities of the closed Ateneu La Flor de Maig are moved to this place .
For this space to begin to fully operate the City has to finish furnishing it and that is why the Administration has already called the tender for the supply and placement of furniture and signage of Casal with a value of 80,998.43 euros.
The municipal government also wants to value the industrial heritage of Can Ricart. For this reason there is a budgeted project of the ICUB of two pieces of the energy system of the old factory that the Museu d’Història de Barcelona will use as interpretation centers. “We will rebuild and interpret these pieces. The project is already there and as far as possible from a financing point of view it will be carried out, “explains Montaner.
Other municipal initiatives that are being activated in the park are the opening of Emilia Coranty Street to Peru Street, once the interior plaza has been enlarged and car parking restricted.
The session also does not close the door to other operators although no solid proposal has been finalized yet. Montaner points out that “there are other investors and other initiatives that wanted to go to Can Ricart” from the “cultural and scientific side, both public and private”.
The neighbors ask to start the works
The neighbors also suggest other uses for the old factory enclosure. Joan Marca , the president of the Neighborhood Association of Can Ricart , proposes to build urban gardens with social uses and the assignment of more spaces for neighborhood initiatives that favor the associative fabric. It also urges the Administration to accelerate the recovery of Can Ricart. “The works should already be underway. We are worried about how this can be financed. At the moment they are all words and we want facts. Can Ricart continues abandoned and destroyed, “Marca says.
For his part, Salvador Clarós , president of the Association of Neighbors of Poblenou , sees with hope the “titanic” work in Can Ricart. “We ask the City Council to commit itself and facilitate the UB project as much as possible. It is an initiative that we guarantee and we all hope it works and does not run aground, “says Clarós, who would also welcome the creation of services such as a restaurant bar that meets the needs of the university campus.
One of the keys for the university park to move forward is financing with an expected investment of 15 million euros. “It’s the million dollar question”, recognizes Coll. Details that it will be possible from different funding sources such as ministerial loans, a line that the Generalitat annually allocates to universities, the PIU (university investment plan), as well as the income already generated by the digitization center of Can Jaumandreu and of the future projects of the Can Ricart park when they are underway.
“We have money to start the first works. The investment planned to finish the Can Ricart project is approximately 15 million. We can keep maintaining a regular investment of 1.5 million per year until we reach a sufficient level of funding that can be supplemented with external projects throughout the year when elements of the park are already functioning, “explains delegate of the rector of the UB for the park of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The private part, pending issue
Another pending issue will be the private part of Can Ricart, the other half of the site not classified as a Cultural Asset of National Interest but as an area of influence. On this issue the councilor of Sant Martí ensures that we must go step by step and the first priority is to agree on public operators. In a second phase would be to know “the intentions of the real estate” but warns that “the buildability of the project planned if carried out is excessive.”
The neighbors also denounce that the private part suffers a serious deterioration and some demolitions are lamenting, like that of a ship last December and that the Neighborhood Association of Can Ricart has broadcast a video denouncing this situation.
Municipal sources detail that the ship that was demolished was not cataloged and they inform that the property “had permission to clean herbs and took advantage of an illegal way to carry out the demolition”.
The president of the Association of Neighbors of Poblenou also requests that the buildings that were not cataloged in the private area should be incorporated into the patrimonial complex and should end up being public.
Can Ricart, which began construction in 1853, was the first large textile steam factory in Poblenou. Now with these new initiatives the old fabirl enclosure wants to start writing a new chapter in the history of the neighborhood.