Más allá de los muros, la calle

Barcelona, Spain

Three new windows bore into the outer walls of the notorious «Modelo» prison, in the city of Barcelona. «Más allá de los muros, la calle» («beyond these walls, there’s the street»), was the chosen line to represent the historical trace that this building left in the city. A verse by Josep Domènech i Avellanet, writer and prisoner, shot to death by Franco’s regime in 1942.

The project aims to begin to open this iconic building to the city. The long term plan is to turn it into a public housing project, and a public park. It is, therefore, a glance to the future.

We propose to observe the work from outside the walls and read the words that back in the days were also prisoners from whose wrote them. Now, these words «jump» outside the prison. Just like culture, free and uncontrolled, as a present for the city.

The "Modelo" prison

The Men Penitentiary Center, also known as «La Model», was opened in 1904 and quickly turned into a symbol of the political repression that would last for decades, leaving a historical trace in the city of Barcelona. It is a very odd architecture project, with a circular floor plan which head building placed in the center. From this module, there are six arms follow a panoptical distribution.

This center shut its doors on June 8th, 2017, and nowadays is open to the public for free tours.

The text

The «Modelo» penitentiary center keeps the stories of hundreds of thousands of people that once were within its walls. One of these people was the very young writer Josep Domènech i Avellanet, who with only 23 years was imprisoned from 1939 to 1942, until he was finally executed by firearm. His girlfriend, Natàlia Sans, achieved to save the poems that Josep wrote during his captivity at the Modelo.

We picked the powerful piece «MÁS ALLÁ DE LOS MUROS, LA CALLE», from the poem «Tarde de domingo», in which the writer misses all that happens beyond the walls of the prison, and desperately moans about the melancholic pass of the time behind bars.

We believe that these words can help us to quickly understand the reality at the prison. The quote also portrays the same building life, which in the future will be opened to the city, and will be filled with cultural activities coming straight out the walls.

"Tarde callada, tarde pensativa
de Invierno y Primavera mezcla.

El sol la alumbra; lluvias la besan.

Tarde sin alegría del viento,
tarde callada.

Sin golondrinas,
sin esperanzas.

Más allá de los muros, la calle;
ruta de silencios, somnolienta.

En los aleros de los tejados; pone la bruma matiz diverso.

Tarde sin luz
sabor a rancia
tarde pobre, gris y yerta.

Las rejas tienen reojos
y de sol ausencias.

Murmullos en la cárcel,
plantel de nuevas promesas.

Limosna para la semana,
fruto de falasa cosechas.

¡Ah! si todo aquí acabara…
¡Ah! si la última fuera…

Pero vendrán tantas otras
tristes tardes de paciencia..."

The area

The intervention is focused on the exterior courtyard at module 4 and spreads all over the floor and walls. The work is designed to be watched from outside the walls, through some perforated windows on the walls. The technique of the anamorphosis allows us to create a game of perspectives, playing with the walls of the courtyard with an optical deformation. We divide the line into three parts and overlap the perspectives generated by the three points of view.

Information and credits
  • Approx 100 m2 intervention made in partnership with AR47 Architects, commissioned by Ajuntament de Barcelona, as a strategy to begin the opening of the building
  • Plastic water-based paint on wall
  • «Gracies» to Montserrat Domínguez, Ariadna Miquel Amengual, Neda Kostandinovic y Joaquim Sangra, for believing in this madness. To Roger Jornet, for designing it together with us, and Antón Andreu Bruguera for making it real
  • Team Boa: Clara González, Dani Martín, Fátima Ferreira
  • Support at the studio: Irene García
  • Photography by Boa Mistura
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