The multidisciplinary collective BCN – Besòs Tower – Team is comprised of the architects Antoni Vilanova and Eduard Simó, the technical architect Joan Olona and the geographer and historian Mercè Tatjer. Established in 2000 to promote, along with entities of the associative fabric, neighborhood groups and former MACOSA workers, the recovery of the Besòs Water Tower as a reference of the industrial past of this neighborhood of the city of Barcelona.
After the Olympic Games in 1992, the second urban transformation took place at the Poblenou seafront, which entailed the closure of the MACOSA-Alsthom industry. Thereof, started the demolition of industrial facilities except for the two listed buildings: The Besòs Water Tower and the adjoining Valve House.
Both buildings became the property of Barcelona City Council and, in 1998, The urbanization project of its surroundings materializes with the formation of the square dedicated to the painter and illustrator, Ramon Calsina (1901-1992).
In the face of the state of decline, degradation and abandonment of the two constructions, we began to debate and analyse viable proposals for the recovery and dignification. Thus, on the occasion of the preparatory works for the edition of the book ” La ciutat de les fàbriques. Itineraris industrials de Sant Martí, Mercè Tatjer i Antoni Vilanova” found, in July 2001, the plans and the original documentation in the documentary collection of the Historical Archive of AGBAR. From that moment on, we created a work team, with Eduard Simó and Joan Olona, to develop a proposal for restoration and rehabilitation from the original planimetry, without being able to access to it.
On April 18, 2002, we entered the Besòs Water Tower for the first time and they gave us a lot of information about the interior spaces and the structural characteristics to complete the preliminary project.
On February 9, 2006, the Mayor of Barcelona and the General Director of the General Water Society of Barcelona (SGAB-AGBAR) signed an agreement for the restoration of the building complex of the Besòs Water Tower. Later, they called a restricted contest and in May we were notified of the assignment to formalize the integral project that drafted throughout 2007.
In 2008, the chief architect of the Barcelona City Council and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) suggested the possibility of installing the work Himmelsrichtungen by the German artist Blinky Palermo in the House of Valves. The work was conceived for the Biennale of Venezia in 1976 and had been exhibited for the last time in 2003 at the MACBA.
After a trip to Venice to discover the original space and gather information at the Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee, it is decided to incorporate the artistic ensemble. The design of the new structure will represent one of the biggest challenges of the project.
In 2010, the first phase of the works began consisting of the general restoration of the Tower (structure, exterior and interior facades, as well as the roof).
In 2011, the general restoration of the Valve House was developed (structure, facades and roof). On October 23, 2012, Himmelsrichtungen was installed inside.
In 2014, the conditioning and equipment necessary for the realization of visits is formalized.
Finally, in 2019 the entire project materialises, completing the interior conditioning of the Valve House as the headquarters of the Poblenou Historical Archive, with the furniture and all the museography of the whole.
Author: Montserrat Bosch (UPC)