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Barcelona, Spain

La Carbonería

One of the most photographed buildings in a city known for its Modernista architecture is an abandoned squat. 

Squatters helped save one of the oldest buildings in Barcelona’s Eixample District, a 19th century coal factory that now sits empty on the corner of Comtes d’Urgell and Floridablanca streets.

Before being deserted, La Carbonería served as the city’s most famous okupa house from 2008 until 2014. At that time the squatters living there painted an abstract black and white tree that covered most of the building’s facade. During an unsuccessful eviction attempt by the owner in January, 2013 they hung a banner that read “Cuando una ley es injusta lo correcto es desobedecer” (When a law is unfair the right thing is to disobey).

In February 2014 police successfully evicted the squatters, to the dismay of many of the neighbors, who were afraid of the building being torn down and replaced with luxury apartments. La Carbonería was scheduled to be demolished, but it was saved when the city council re-categorized it as being of historic and artistic interest.

Now the abandoned squat is among the most photographed buildings in Barcelona. La Carbonería now features a painting of a soaring hot air balloon with one of the building’s balconies serving as its basket.