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The planned expansion of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA), in an operation that includes the redevelopment of Plaça dels Àngels and the construction of the new primary health care (CAP) centre for the Raval Nord neighbourhood in the Misericòrdia chapel, is an operation that the Barcelona city council is selling as an extension of the public space - because a terrace will be opened for use by the public - but which for the residents means the loss of around 1,000 square metres of the current square with the construction of a new building on its seaward side. The "No to the extension of the MACBA" residents' platform has led the opposition to this extension, and has managed to bring on board the current main occupants of Plaça dels Àngels, the skateboarders, a group that mayor Jaume Collboni said "could not monopolize the square".

Summoned by the platform opposed to the expansion, a hundred people, including residents and skateboarders joined together in common cause, gathered this Wednesday afternoon in the Plaça dels Àngels to begin a march around the city's central Raval neighbourhood, which included specific traffic blockages on Carrer del Carme and Carrer de los Àngels. With a mood that was both festive and assertive, marchers repeated chants against the expansion and in favour of the neighborhood fight to preserve a space that was achieved more than thirty years ago and that now, neither residents nor skateboarders want to lose to allow the expansion of the public art museum from its current Richard Meier-designed building.

Protesta veïnal ampliació MACBA / Foto: Carlos Baglietto
A group of skaters participate in the demonstration against the expansion of the MACBA / Photo: Carlos Baglietto
Protesta veïnal ampliació MACBA / Foto: Carlos Baglietto
A moment in the demonstration in the Raval against the expansion of the MACBA / Photo: Carlos Baglietto

In speeches given prior to the march, members of the neighbourhood platform and representatives of the skaters recalled that the rally was "in defence of public space" in a neighbourhood that has a serious lack of spaces of this type and they regretted the "unilateral decision" of the Barcelona city council to "gift the MACBA a thousand square metres". "We can't accept it", asserted one of the participants, recalling that the neighbourhood platform has made submissions against the expansion project and that, in addition, "it is still alive" an administrative disputes appeal seeking to paralyze the project which, according to the neighbours, means "ruining a thousand square metres".

"We've been skating in this space for thirty years", said one of the skateboarders who spoke, asserting that the accusations of "monopolizing the square" are "a trick to justify the expansion". After the addresses, the marchers made a circuit of part of the Raval to return to Plaça dels Àngels, where after a group photo, they ended the demonstration. The skaters, who had carried their boards with them on the march, once again put their wheels on the concrete in a square that, according to Sara, one of the skateboarders, "is a worldwide benchmark" in the sport.