A day full of excitement for local residents in the Gothic neighbourhood, who were able to visit the iconic Borsí building for the first time. The four floor building is located between Pl. Verònica and C/ Avinyó and has long been the subject of calls to turn it into a cultural and social venue. Once it is renovated, the building will house a new generation library and function as a place for people to access knowledge, education, technology and a space for neighbourhood participation.
Residents were able to visit the facilities in the Borsí building, which previously belonged to the Government of Catalonia and will now become municipally-owned as part of an exchange.
The municipal government plans to spend 3.5 million euros on reconditioning the building for new uses. The building will be the new home for the Gòtic – Andreu Nin library, which aims to become established as a place for the public to access books, magazines and audio-visuals, knowledge and education, as well as a forum for participation. The facility will also have a social role for local residents, who will define its use via a participatory process.
The regaining of the Borsí building forms part of the strategy to boost action in the neighbourhoods and promote the role of local residents in decision-making which affects them. In keeping with this idea, the Councillor for Ciutat Vella, Gala Pin, asserted: “The Neighbourhood Plan, along with the decided push by local residents, has helped the people in the neighbourhood to regain this iconic building”. For his part, the Second Deputy Mayor, Jaume Collboni, remarked that regaining the Borsí was a “long-standing dream of the Gothic neighbourhood” and that local residents have now “pacifically taken possession” of the building.
The Borsí was built between 1881 and 1883 by the master builder Tiberi Sabater as the home for the Casino Mercantil, the city’s private stock exchange, on a site opened up by Espartero’s bombardment of Barcelona in 1842. Built in the neoclassical style, the façade features two sculptures devoted to trade and industry. The construction of the Casino Mercantil on the site was an initiative by the banker Evarist Arnús.
In 1915, with the regularisation of the stock exchange, the building became the Mercat Lliure de Valors, a stock market which operated until the end of the Spanish Civil War, when Franco decreed its end with the objective of running a single official stock exchange. In 1940 the Borsí became home to the Escola de Belles Arts and as from the 1960s, the Escola d’Arts Aplicades i Oficis de la Llotja. In 2009, the building was in poor repair and a false ceiling collapsed, causing it to be vacated.