El Borsí, Building a public-community management equipment

Scope: CiutatCategories: Citizenship Participation


The restoration of the historic building of El Borsí in Barcelona is part of the “Neighbourhood Plan” (Pla de Barris), a program with an allocated budget to reverse the inequalities of the city. The building, acquired by the Barcelona City Council, will be used as municipal equipment holding a mixed use. It will host the expansion of the Gothic Quarter Library ‘Andreu Nin’ and a community socio-cultural equipment managed by a neighbourhood platform. Thus, a public-community use and management of the future building is expected, fruit of the understanding between the administration and the neighbourhood.

At the beginning of 2018, the architectural competition for the rehabilitation of the national heritage building and the definition of the spaces and uses of the future equipment takes place. This is also the beginning of a negotiation and collaborative work between the Gothic Library and the neighbourhood platform, with the support of the City Council and the Martínez Lapeña-Torres architects office.

In this context, the “Neighbourhood Plan” (Pla de Barris) managers request an evaluation of the process to know:

  • to what extent the final design matches the initial expectations and needs of the different agents;
  • how participation in the definition of the uses of El Borsí has been developed;
  • how the logics of public management and community management are combined;
  • how the new space is expected to work.


For a year and a half, Spora has:

  • closely followed the process of defining the new space,
  • examined the comings and goings in the negotiation for the uses of the equipment,
  • verified the limitations that the building presents
  • and identified the challenges of public-community management.

This building represents a new model of equipment in the city, both because of the shared uses and the mixed management between administration and neighbourhood. It thus becomes a benchmark for future municipal facilities.

A descriptive analysis of the work process for the definition of the architectural project results from the work carried out, as an outcome of the design of the space and what it implies. It is a document that relates the different stages, the obstacles they have encountered and the strategies used solved them. The aim of the study has been to document the process but also to systematize a model so that it is easier to reproduce it in other neighbourhoods in Barcelona.