Encants III – Architecture in Blue
Two short galleries of very different architectural images, taken on a short walk around the area of the Encants market at Glories, Barcelona.
The area is undergoing a construction boom at present, with large modern developments for housing of all types, offices, hotels and additional space for schools and universities. Much of this architecture makes a complete break with Barcelona’s historical building styles, adopting a very modern glass-and-steel approach.
In parallel with these constructions, the area is also seeing the emergence of chabolas (shanty towns), usually built in the plots of cleared land before construction starts on the latest edifice.
These are being used by “chatarreros” – the people that you see roaming the streets using shopping trolleys to collect items for recycling. They cluster here due to the nearby Encants markets (both legal and illegal), and also the warehouses that pay for recyclable material.
The contrast and parallels with the adjacent new and very expensive constructions could not be greater. Both are being driven by sets of people with the aim of increasing their wealth, and both could be regarded as prime examples of capitalist systems.
The chatarreros form part of a complex social system that operates in parallel to the mainstream. Just as in real life, there are both exploiters and the exploited. Those at the top of the chain are well organised and do very well, profiting directly and indirectly from illegal economic activity. Those at the bottom do much less well, excluded from the mainstream support and protection that most in Europe take for granted.
It is a system defined and controlled by cultures of exclusion and nationality rather than by law and rights. It is something that should exist in Barcelona in the 21st century.