Urban Alternatives is launched by a collaboration of different actors which are united in their efforts to create a more democratic, just and sustainable world. This map seeks to highlight initiatives that work towards this goal. Proposal for initiatives not listed yet can be made directly on the website. This process is open to new collaborations.


La Borda

Inclusive Housing & Public Space

Can Batlló is a former industrial site built in the late nineteenth century. In 1976, Barcelona's General Metropolitan Plan (PGM) ordered that the industrial activity in the site must cease, and public facilities, public housing and green space must be built instead. In 2011 the transformation of the site was still blocked and neighbours from the surrounding area occupied the site and demanded an open process to define the new uses and projects.

One of the projects that arouse from that community-led participatory process was La Borda housing cooperative. The challenges La Borda wanted to address were twofold. First, the abandonment of Can Batlló and the lack of public facilities and open spaces in the area. And second, the housing affordability crisis in the neighborhood.

As part of the Plataforma Can Batlló, the first goal of La Borda is to give a social use to the abandoned former industrial site of Can Batlló. By building affordable cooperative housing in the site, La Borda is contributing to filling Can Battló with life while giving it a social use.

The second goal, more specific to La Borda, is to contribute to the development of an alternative housing scheme that provides affordability and resident engagement throughout the development process. This goal relates to the housing affordability crisis in the neighborhood and throughout Barcelona, but also to the need to develop more democratic self-managed housing models.

Prospective residents have had a chance to design and coproduce their homes and their living environment. This has allowed them to choose sustainable materials and building techniques, and to prioritize shared common spaces and facilities over private dwelling space. On top of that, they have ensured long-term housing affordability by relying exclusively on ethical banking financing and contributions from members and other benefactors, ensuring that entry fees and monthly contributions are maintained at an affordable level.

La Borda is about to complete a 28-unit affordable housing development in Can Batlló that has been conceived entirely by the cooperative's members. It is also pioneering a legal scheme (cooperative + land leasehold + grant of use to residents) that has already been replicated by other cooperatives and promoted through local public policies in Barcelona and beyond.