Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Bicicletes Castells

Concha's new council flat is near the beautiful old power station
where I used to give classes and where two students first provided
valuable information about air raid shelters.

When I went to take photos of Pere Falque's building for this blog
last year I took a long walk home, and a lot more photos. This one
of an old bicycle shop just near the Arc de Trionf, the nearest tube
station to Concha and my old class.

I'm glad I did.

Because it's gone.

When I came out of the station last week there was just a walled-up

A jagged space.

Founded in 1928 by Josep Castells, the shop, now run by his great
grandson Pau Foguet, was a meeting point for cyclists, the place to
buy a new model, to repair the old, had even been the base of a
cycling team, the France-Espagne.

For four generations the family have been promoting passion for
sport and this gentle, environmentally friendly means of transport.

But a few years ago urban planners decided this was an ideal place
for a hotel.

Such a wonderful view down one of Barcelona's most beautiful
avenues, Passeig Lluis Companys, to the park.

For the tourists.

Ildefons Cerdà's original and visionary plan for the extension of
Barcelona in the 19th century included gardens in the interior of
every new city block.

Such a waste of space.

This part of the plan was largely ignored.

In recent years, the city council has been recuperating some of the
spaces for public gardens. Admirable, even if they are a little
heavy-handed with the concrete. They decided to recuperate the
one behind the projected hotel.

The entrance to the garden would be through the bicycle shop.

The old bar next door went first but the Castells family had no
intention of leaving. They fought the forced acquisition in court
and, surprisingly, won the case.

Bring in the heavy artillery.

The Generalitat, the autonomous government of Catalonia, plans to
refurbish and extend the tube and train stations below. Apart from
a special reinforcement necessary to support the weight of the new
hotel, improved accessibility to the station requires a lift.

Guess where.

The ideal place is, of course, the middle of the bicycle shop.

This time the family had to admit defeat and have moved to new
premises. They received compensation.

But for some, it is not a question of money.

No comments: