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On a new type of ugly building in Barcelona


Pep's barbershop is on the corner of Aragˇ and Passeig de Sant Joan, in Barcelona's Eixample district. Every month or so, Pep gives me, at my request, the exact same flat-top. For the last eighteen years, this haircut has sat imperturbably on top of my head, pretending to take no notice of the rampant signs of aging in the face below it.
I was getting my umpteenth flat-top at Pep's last Saturday, and, and as is our wont, both of us had started laying into Barcelona's Mayor Joan Clos, whom we have no hesitation in describing as inept, clownish and money-grubbing (and that's when we're trying to be kind). All of a sudden, Pep said: 'Do you know they've gone back to building afegits de Porcioles?'.
Porcioles was Barcelona's Francoist Mayor from 1957 to 1973. He was notorious for many things, not least for allowing the illegal construction of afegits or 'added-on flats' on the top of some of the Eixample's most beautiful buildings. These 1960s-style eyesores were eventually removed under the mayorship of Pasqual Maragall some twenty years later.
Spurred on by my incredulous expression, Pep took me onto the street and pointed out the four plug-ugly penthouses that had recently been built within spitting distance of his business.
This time round, according to Pep, it is perfectly legal to put up one of these things: the City Council has special permits available for any citizen rich enough to afford them, and callous enough not to have any qualms about ruining one of the finest architectural conurbations in Western Europe.
On the bright side, maybe this return to Francoist-era town-planning will result in a scandal big enough to get Clos ousted from office. Should he finally resign under this particular cloud, remember, please, that you read it here first.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programaciˇ: Nac -