The keys have been delivered for the 20 homes of the cooperative housing project La Balma, located at Carrer Espronceda 131-135 in the Poblenou neighbourhood in the District of Sant Martí, built on a publicly owned plot which the Barcelona Municipal Housing Institute (IMHAB) has assigned to the Sostre Cívic cooperative for an extendible period of 75 years. The promotion will have 20 subsidised homes. The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau; the Chairman of Sostre Cívic, Carlos Alcoba; the Chairman of the Confederation of Cooperatives of Catalonia, Guillem Llorens; the Director of the Barcelona Delegation of Fiare Banca Ètica, Sònia Molina; the Secretary of Housing and Social Inclusion of the Government of Catalonia, Carles Sala; and the representatives of La Balma, Sil Bel and Maria Badia, delivered the keys to the new residents of the cohousing project La Balma.
The La Balma project came to life in 2016 when the Sostre Cívic cooperative, along with a driving group of members and the team of architects of the cooperative Lacol i la Boqueria, won the competition promoted by the Barcelona City Council to develop a cooperative housing project in the Poblenou neighbourhood. The construction process began in September 2019 and now the keys have been delivered to the people that will move into the 20 apartments.
La Balma is a five-floor building containing 20 homes in the Official Protection regime, of three types: small, of 48.9 m2; medium, of 61 m2; and large, of 75.34m2. In addition to the homes, the building will have a number of common spaces: a community hall with a kitchen and lavatory, a car park and bike workshop, guest rooms, a cure room, a laundry and a communal roof terrace.
The building is constructed with wood and will have a geothermal system, a source of renewable energy obtained from the heat stored in the earth. The promoting group of La Balma is heterogeneous and intergenerational, and it includes various types of families: single-parent, couples with and without children, individual young or retired people. In addition, one of the homes is reserved for people in a situation of special vulnerability, which will be inhabited by two young former wards.
Promotion of cohousing
This is one of the various actions exemplifying Barcelona City Council’s commitment to maximising its public rental housing stock, contained in the Right to Housing Plan 2016-2025.
With this model, Barcelona has become one of the first cities in the Spanish State to have cohousing projects in motion aimed at guaranteeing access to decent and affordable homes, maintaining public ownership of land, fighting against speculation, favouring stability over time for residents and fostering communal management of buildings.
The first two pilot projects were signed in the year 2015 and the residents are now living there: Princesa 49 (5 homes) and La Borda (28 homes). In 2016 the programme was enlarged to a total of 122 homes with a first tender of municipal plots and buildings in which four plots were adjudicated, one of which is La Balma. In 2019 a second public tender was held of three plots, with a total of 107 new homes.
In addition, in order to promote this housing modality, the City Council has created the Cooperative Housing Board as a new working group within the Barcelona Social Housing Council. Within this framework, the City Council has signed an agreement with non-profit organisations to streamline the process of assignment of plots and increase the public housing stock. With the agreement signed last November, these entities have been provided with 15 plots and 3 buildings, totalling 497 homes dedicated to rental and cohousing.