48-hour Open House Barcelona: exploring the hidden face of the city

Periodically held every October in the city of Barcelona, the architecture festival 48-hour Open House Barcelona proposes an intimate tour of the Catalan capital. Around 200 buildings usually closed to public open their doors for free to let hordes of visitors explore them on 26 and 27 of October.

The aim of the festival is to explain the architecture of the city transversally to society, valuing it as a good that surrounds us, and stimulating their knowledge and respect. In spite of being born with identity vocation and of territorial implantation to the city, it has as referents and forms part of the international network openhouseworldwide.org, the founder being London Open House.

As you can imagine, there would be infinite queues in most places. So prepare your itinerary in advance, wake up early, bear long waiting hours outside and accept that you won’t be able to enter all of them, unfortunately. To ease your tour, we’ve prepared a list of our favourite buildings to discover during the 48-hour Open House Barcelona.

 

1 – The Old “La Modelo” Jail

 

Photo by @pierredeteuf / Instagram

 

The place

 

“La Modelo” prison had to be a model of reform of the penitentiary system of the moment. It was a building where the form showed its function: the facades transmitted seriousness and austerity to the citizens and the function was evidenced by an innovative distribution in a plan of six units distributed in a circular war around a central panopticon. This allowed the control of prisoners from a central point of observation. History shows that the life of the prison had very little to do with being a model and, as the adjacent mural says, we hope that the new space will become “from prison model to model of transformation”.

 

Why go there?

 

This building used to be the symbol of the Franquist repression in Catalonia and still bears the scars of fascism in its heavy atmosphere.

 

 

2 – La Escocesa (Creation Factory)

 

Photos by UrbanrulesBCN02 / Visual Hunt

 

The place

 

Former textile printing factory of the Paul family that, since 1877, was occupied by different companies, including the company Johnston, Shields and Cia – La Escocesa (1894-1984), which ended up giving the name.

 

Why go there?

 

Today is an open factory of analogical creation that covers the needs of artists. It also offers workspaces and resources to develop projects. The context of analogical creation involves the reuse of low technology as a key element for the reappropriation of creative processes and their organic temporality.

 

 

3 – Fàbrica Lehmann

 

48-hour Open House Barcelona

Photo from https://www.48hopenhousebarcelona.org

 

The place

 

Acceding through a central alley, you reach an interior courtyard with a 25-meter-high chimney, around which all the operations of the factory were carried out. Different original uses of the same were supplying plates and cutlery for the army, to the work of doll and porcelain doll heads, or that of fabrics for plush costumes.

 

Why go there?

 

Currently, the space is shared by a score of studios, with an attractively decadent air.

 

 

4 – Fàbrica Anís del Mono

 

48-hour Open House Barcelona

 

The place

 

Vicenç Bosch Grau, sole owner of Anís del Mono, after the death of his brother Josep, in 1897, gave a great boost to the company and stood out for its relationship with Modernism through poster design and architecture. It should be mentioned that at the Badalona railway station there was an anise sale kiosk, now disappeared, projected in 1896 by Puig i Cadafalch.

 

Why go there?

 

The factory, which continues to operate today, conserves spaces of great heritage value, such as the distillation room, the archive and the manager’s office. You can also see copies of the posters of the contest that the painter Ramon Casas won in 1898.

 

 

 

5 – CNMC building

 

48-hour Open House Barcelona

Photo by @pierredeteuf / Instagram

 

The place

 

Modern rarity in the transformation of 22 @ negating right angles and parallelepipeds, and fleeing the grey, dark and glazed chromatic. Its outer skin, formed by large slats that protect the offices from solar radiation, helps to annex the new building with the remains of Can Tiana, the old factory listed as industrial heritage, where different equipment is located. The National Commission of the Markets and the Competition is the organism that watches over the competition, and supervises and controls the correct functioning of the markets of electronic communications and audio-visual communication, of the energy sector and natural gas, of the postal market and of the sector railway in Spain.

 

Why go there?

 

The metal architecture makes it a unique building and the views from the rooftop offer an amazing panorama of the Poblenou district and of the Sagrada Familia.

 

 

6 – Casa Pérez Samanillo (Círculo Ecuestre)

 

48-hour Open House Barcelona

Photo from https://www.48hopenhousebarcelona.org

 

The place

 

Designed as a single-family residence, it is an atypical example of an exempt building, located following the alignment of the corner. As a result of the installation of the Equestrian Circle in the building, in 1948, a terraced body with ground floor and roof was built, currently modified.

 

Why go there?

 

The facades are raised in an eclectic and French-style fashion. It includes modernist elements, such as the large oval window of the dining room, open on the Diagonal popularly known as ‘La Peixera’ (fishbowl).

 

 

7- Casa Marsans (Alberg Mare de Déu de Montserrat)

 

https://www.48hopenhousebarcelona.org

 

The place

 

An old single-family house with a square floor plan that is organized around a centralized patio. In its interior it translates into a cloister-like space developed on the first floor with arcades of neo-Arab design. The modernist interior decoration gives the space a spectacular play of light and colour. A recent rehabilitation has reconverted the building into a hostel, adding a new building.

 

Why go there?

 

For the beauty of the Moorish architecture and the spectacular green environment. Also, it’s set around in quiet part of the city away from the bustling centre.

 

 

8- Restaurant Marea Alta (Torre Colón)

 

 

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The place

 

Marea Alta is a restaurant located on the 24th floor of the Torre Colón. The top three floors all make up part of the 1,000m² restaurant. They include Marea Baja, a bar located on the 23rd floor, and the kitchens, located on the top floor. The shape of the windows and the décor resemble a boat. In addition, the height and location of the tower provide an exceptional point to get a 360º view of Barcelona.

 

Why go there?

 

Marea Alta has been called the restaurant with the best views of Barcelona. So come and admire the entire city from this incredible vantage point.

 

9- Biblioteca Arús

 

48-hour Open House Barcelona

Photo by latitudes-flickr / Visual Hunt

 

The place

 

The beautiful library was founded in 1895. It’s set in a grand building with marble staircases and dark, wooden bookshelves. The latter are covered in over 80,000 historic books about the workers’ movement, anarchism and freemasonry. The library was originally in a private residence. Upon his death the owner wished to open it to the public.

 

Why go there?

 

It is such a classically beautiful set of rooms to explore . It has retained all the historic elegance that you could expect from a 19th century library.

 

10- La Borda

 

 

The place

 

This revolutionary apartment block is an attempt to re-build our society through the concept of ‘collective housing’. The residents don’t even pay rent due to the belief that housing is a basic right. With a multitude of social spaces that require people to interact with each other, the designers of these apartments are hoping to rekindle a sense of community that many worry we have lost.

 

Why go there?

 

For the inspiration of a new way of living. You could see the importance of the role that the basic structure of a building plays on the lives of its inhabitants.

 

And there’s much more to see…

 

If you prefer to make your own selection for 48-hour Open House Barcelona find the rest of the buildings here (only in Catalan though). So, we’ve also listed them in the map below. Some may be more of your interests and nearer to you.

 

 

Where to stay

 

On top of valuable tips on 48-hour Open House Barcelona, we also provide the best holiday accommodation in Barcelona. Whether you want to stay in the city centre or near most the spots to visit, we offer a wide selection of luxury apartments for rent. With their special interior design and comfort they’ll make the ideal places to lodge during your trip.

 

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