We discovered Lancaster when Sarah came to the Citizen’s Attention Office in 2015. She came from France to Barcelona in 2011, and squatted an empty building in Lancaster str,24 along with a group of people to boost a project for migrant single mothers. That project failed, and after a year the building was substandard housing conditions. While squatted houses are seen as stereotypes, what the students witnessed was a varied range of different people in social emergency ranging from single mothers to elderly people.
Sarah introduced us to dwellers, and the idea of restarting a new project gathered the community again. After the cartography of the building, its dwellers, and analysis of problems and pathologies we get to the conclusion that there was an urgent need to bring hygiene to the building: ventilation, sewage and water, as well as restoration works. Despite there was no budget, dwellers had the skills and are willing to improve the situation of the building.
The strategy we set in this case is base in “microprojects”: instead of a large single intervention we planned and designed multiple short ones that neighbours could execute whenever they had budget for the materials or time to invest. Our technical consultancy included the planning of the interventions, as well as the description of tools, people and instructions to carry them out.
The interventions included the improvement of light and ventilation of the building, waterproofing of the roof, the installation of a solar heater and its plumbing installation and the opening of a window at the ground floor that would improve hygienic conditions. In addition, a first intervention developed by the students together with the community consisted on the transformation of the ground floor space into a gathering and shared area and the painting of the facade and common areas. This increased trust in the project, to trust themselves and to gather the community together.
The building was affected by a Urban Improvement Plan (PMU) from 2002, and in 2016 a collective “Collective Mothers L24” was created in order to avoid an eviction. Finally, dwellers were relocated in public housing flats and Lancaster was demolished.