dialogue #14 ‘future/past’

Heritage in transition

The prison La Modelo was built in 1904, at that time outside the city of Barcelona. La Modelo (“The Model”) was born to be the prototype for the new Spanish penitentiary system. It was built following the panopticon control system devised by the social theorist Jeremy Bentham and that allowed to control a large building from a single central point. After 113 years, the building closes its doors in a totally different urban context. By 2017, La Modelo is no longer located on the surroundings of Barcelona but on a strategic point in the city. The building, with a lot of deficiencies for its internal use, puts into question its proper functioning as a prison. The urban evolution of the city puts in question the building and its use there were it is located.

Nowadays photographs of the interiors are hanging on the walls of the prison, promising spaces that had been hidden from the citizens until now. Showers with humidity, encircled courtyards, methadone consumption rooms, dining rooms, theaters and control rooms are exposed to the public that will have to decide the future of the building. The neighborhood is invited to a participatory process to decide how the transition of uses and spaces should be. We could call the present of the building a ‘meanwhile’, a moment to stand by, to digest the past and think over the transition.

20.01.2018 Barcelona

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Four brick samples by the dutch manufacturer Vandersanden are displayed in front of an old transformer station in Berlin-Neukölln (built by Hans-Heinrich Müller during the 1920th) in order to simulate the possible facade of a huge brick building which will be realized by Robertneun architects in the heart of Berlin’s biggest urban transformation area of the present day: the Quartier Heidestraße.


  • Author: Piet Nieder
    dialogue #14 ‘future/past’

  • Keywords: displayed, dutch manufacturer, round I, samples, to simulate

  • Medium: Photography

  • Location:

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