Barcelona Photoblog


Friday, May 8, 2020

Spotted by Locals Barcelona

Every year, blog network Spotted by Locals asks their locals in 80 cities to choose their favorite blogs. As in the last few years, Barcelona Photoblog was included in the list of “Best Barcelona blogs” for this year!

Here’s a selection of 5 of the Spotted by Locals Barcelona locals’ favorite spots. Many more on the blog, or in the app.

Surf House Barcelona - Good vibrations

Surf House Barcelona (by Ilse de Ridder)

Barcelona is a city with a laid back vibe. No wonder it is home to skaters and – with a beach in town – many surfers. Barceloneta is a true hotspot with many places to rent surfboards and gear to give it a go. No wonder this neighbourhood is the place to be for Surf House Barcelona, a definite favourite in town for many of us! This beach bar has amazing juices and sandwiches! Guaranteed a healthy – or if preferred a more heavy – recovery weekend brunch.

La Llama Store - The store for humour lovers

La Llama Store (by Gina Xifra)

La Llama Store is focused on humour through books, art and other random items. This store has an art gallery where local artists show their work so you can also buy it. Be warned: Once you end up buying something, there is a high chance that you will return and want to spend more time checking out everything that they have. Every fan of humour, comics or just looking for a laugh must visit it.

Espai Mescladís - Gastronomy meets creativity

Espai Mescladís (by Tatiana Martinez)

Espai Mescladís is very colourful restaurant, with many curious objects and a vintage feel to it. The atmosphere was very multicultural and eclectic. What makes this place so special are the people working there; Moroccans, Africans, every culture but Spanish. This restaurant was actually created as part of a social project to help integrate immigrants through educational initiatives that also facilitate social work integration. Through their program “Cuinant Oportunitats” (literally meaning cooking opportunities), the organization Fundació Ciutadania Multicultural in charge of this project manages to get many groups of immigrants who are in high risk of exclusion into the market by giving them employment.

Sala Beckett - Walk this way for theatre

Graffiti Art (by Carlos Domeque)

Good contemporary theatre has to be cutting edge and Barcelona has no shortage of companies and venues that produce just that. Sala Beckett has been at the forefront of this for some time. Sala Beckett is both a theatre space and centre for workshops and masterclasses. The building they now inhabit is an old neighbourhood athenaeum or cultural centre, which with a few contemporary flourishes has been restored to its former glory. Even if you decide not to catch a show there, I recommend having a look around.

Re-read - Second-hand bookshop

Re-read (by Andia Ago)

Re-read is, as the name implies, a second-hand bookshop which is very welcoming, with its warm lights and stacks upon stacks of books. They are divided into categories and you can find books in many languages besides Spanish and Catalan. If you are looking for a specific book, you can use their online search engine which shows in which store you can find your book. What I usually like to do is wander around there for quite some time and pick up the books that look interesting to me.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Casa Berenguer or Casa Clapes - A Modernist Building with a Textile Past

Casa Berenguer or Casa Clapes, modernist building in Barcelona

Walking along the streets of L'Eixample Baix Esquerra (low left part of the Eixample quarter) I come across this beautiful historical restored house: Casa Berenguer or Casa Clapes, located exactly at 246 Diputacio carrer (street) and right in between two well known downtown busy roads, Rambla Catalunya and Balmes. 

This is the story of Casa Berenguer aka Clapes, yet another good example of Catalan architecture: 

It was the start of a century, times of prosperity, of fortunes amassed thanks to the endeavors of the Catalan bourgeoisie not only in Cuba before the war of independence but in the textile industry, the bulwark of the local economy. Bear in mind that it was in Catalonia where the first textile machinery was imported from Great Britain and its leadership in this sector has remained till today (from the 10 top companies in the Spanish textile market 7 are Catalan). Within this context and in combination with an artistic boom in all aspects of life, probably due to the economic bliss, distinguished families of well-being decided to hire famous architects that embarked in one of the most remarkable urban projects of the moment in Europe. Thanks to that spirit, that capitalist greed transformed into a sudden burst of interest in art, now we can admire everyday, for free, these hallmarks of Barcelona city. 

The story of Casa Berenguer begins with the Berenguer family of course and a lime factory in Altes, region of Bages. The years of dedication of Josep Berenguer Vilarasau in that factory inspired his descendants (from a family of weavers) that after his death in 1895, created a textile society called Nephews of Berenguer. The members of this society, Josep, Casimir and Francesc Clapes Berenguer bought a parcel of land from Sons of Antonio Escubos company. 

It was 1905 and the Berenguers decided to commission brothers Bassegoda i Amigo (Casa Bosch Alsina  1891 - 1892, Casa Rocamora 1914) to build a multi-family house that would hold their society headquarters and some rental apartments. The modernist house was finished in 1908. As an anecdote you should know that one of the brothers, Bonaventura Bassegoda i Amigo was a full professor and director at ETSAB (1922 - 1924), old Escuela Provincial de Arquitectura de Barcelona, founded in 1875 and first one in Catalunya. 

Casa Berenguer was remodeled in 1990 by a private company that offers offices for rent. It was thanks to that meticulous renovation that we enjoy the view in the image above of this unique modernist house included in the Architectural Heritage Catalog of the City of Barcelona. 

When we approach the façade of Casa Clapes, we are attracted like bees to flowers and stand amazed at the entryway, one of those ample porticos mostly prepared for carriages, with the elaborate woodwork by Joan Busquets i Jané, famous furniture maker and decorator (1874 - 1949) in the porter's sentry box and the coffered ceiling illuminated by marvelous lamps profuse in ironwork.

Outside, over the ground level, four floors of beauty rise before us, two of them festooned with an enormous tribune or gallery in which textile scenes abound and an upper one boasting two large balconies over which appears the image of a woman in the act of spinning. 

After sharing with you, Casa Berenguer, one of the many works of our artists it is time to keep walking. Who knows what architectural troves we'll find along the way!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

How Green and Sustainable is Barcelona?

What is Barcelona doing to become greener and sustainable?

After the lack of consensus in many areas during COP25 summit regarding climate change, it is clear that our governments and our citizens still have a long path ahead to mend things up before it is too late to save us from extinction in this planet which by the way will prevail with or without us. So it is quite obvious that every single measure, be it performed by an individual or by the state, counts.

Solving this existential problem is vital and requires every effort. Of course increasing green space in the city, nurturing our natural lungs is not enough if 70 % of the metropolitan area favors cars. 
There is no time for the trees to absorb all that CO2 and it is more practical to cut down on cars than sowing a jungle out there. 

Sometimes, the air in Barcelona is quite good, in some quarters more than others but the yearly average does not meet with recommended measures. It is not that we are one of the most polluted cities in the world, but it is rather stupid to think of the patch of atmosphere above us as an impermeable bubble. We ruin this spot and that will have repercussions all over the globe.

It is necessary that an agreement is reached and that countries stop behaving like kids. Children are often wiser I would say. 

The fact that the car industry is a huge business run by not so scrupulous lobbies, happily sustained by 'greedy' consumers, not too willing to consider the battle to stop pollution as a top priority, does not mean we cannot work on putting some filters in the house in the way of green spaces scattered not only in the surroundings but in the very center of our part of the world, Barcelona in this case.

Barcelona is among the most crowded cities in Europe with a population of 1.636.762 inhabitants in a 101.35 km² surface and so there are a lot of cars. From that huge amount, 570.000 do not carry any label certifying its level of pollution because they simply are highly contaminating vehicles. This is all about to change by decree thanks to local government measures in 2020. Cars like those won't be allowed in the city anymore. 

Besides this important news, there is literally an invasion of personal electric two wheel vehicles and I think things are going to get better. 

But wait a minute, what about the green?! 

25 % of Barcelona is covered or adorned with trees. They tend to last 50 years and there is a sort of 20 year plan, ending in 2037 to improve their quality and quantity. Take the case of plane trees, a traditional species in Barcelona. We keep them because they have been part of our culture for more than a century but they get sick more often and make people sick with their pollen. So not any tree will do. They must resist the new adversities of climate change as well.

Fortunately, we have beautiful green areas in the small hills around and inside Barcelona like Parc del Guinardo (in the pictures), Parc de Montjuic, Collserola Range Natural Park or charming and romantic style Ciutadella Park and Parc del Laberint

Evidently, as we emphasized at the beginning, it is difficult to filter insane proportions of CO2 and other contaminating agents by turning Barcelona into a jungle, and of course not just planting trees
without criteria, that's why we need new plans, plans for the industry and plans for green spaces in a way that we create a balanced urban ecosystem. One of the most outstanding measures regarding the latter is the Greenery and Biodiversity Plan  or the Green-Infrastructure Impetus Plan - Barcelona intends to have an extra 1 m² of greenery per resident by 2030!

Check here for more information on Barcelona environment and sustainability

And on January 15th, 2020 Barcelona has declared a state of climate emergency and a plan of action for the next decade that includes 100 measures and a 563.3 million euros budget. Measures will apply on seven main areas: mobility, urban planning, food, economy, energy, consumption - recycling of waste and culture - education.

These actions add up to a previous strategic plan adopted in 2018 known as the Pla Clima (Barcelona Climate Plan).

As you can see we can work on a better planet for our children. It is yet to be seen whether politicians and social agents, whether we as individuals fulfill our promises.

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