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Our history

The Casa de Caritat (Almshouse)

The CCCB is located in a spot with a long history: the site of a 17th century church that became the monastery of Montalegre in the 13th century and a Jesuit seminary in the 16th century. In the 18th century, a military barracks and correctional facility was installed there. Finally, in the year 1802, King Charles IV of Spain authorised the creation of a charitable establishment, the Casa de Caritat (Almshouse) to provide shelter for the most disadvantaged members of society. Over time, the Casa de Caritat came to fund itself and it obtained income from very diverse sources. It organised prize draws, masquerade balls, and bullfights. It also produced basic essentials: biscuits, needles, fabrics, noodles, rope sandals, cotton, clothing, et cetera. Its most profitable activities prominently included the municipal concession of the funeral service in 1838 and, especially, the creation of one of the city’s most important printing presses. This self-funding system was achieved by the teaching of specialised trades (carpentry, blacksmithery, printing, shoemaking, etc.) within the Almshouse itself.

In the year 1868, responsibility for the establishment was transferred to the Provincial Council of Barcelona (Diputació), as a result of the Public Charity Law of 1853. In contrast, during the short period of the Republican Generalitat (1932-1936), the Casa de Caritat was the exclusive responsibility of the Catalan government; in that period significant improvements were made, especially in the treatment of inmates and the secularisation of the teaching staff. The Casa de Caritat ceased to function in the year 1957 with the move to and inauguration of new premises in the Vall d’Hebron district (Llars Mundet).

In 2016, the CCCB and the Xarxa Audiovisual Local (Diputació de Barcelona) in collaboration with BATABAT produce the documentary Temps de caritat. The film evokes the childhood of the people who lived in la Casa de la Caritat de Barcelona. Nowadays, they meet every Thursday at the CCCB bar.

 

The creation of the CCCB

In 1989, the Consortium formed by the Diputació de Barcelona and Ajuntament de Barcelona approved the creation of the CCCB, within the context of a project for the rehabilitation of the Raval neighbourhood and its historical buildings, and with the intention of housing a complex for contemporary culture in the former Casa de Caritat.

The Centre’s management commissioned architects Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana, with the collaboration of Eduard Mercader, with the construction project for the cultural facility. Building work began in 1991 and the CCCB was officially inaugurated on 24 February 1994 under the directorship of Josep Ramoneda, who was at the helm of the Centre from 1989 until 2011. This position was later held by Marçal Sintes (2011-2014) and Vicenç Villatoro (2014-2018). Judit Carrera has been the director of the centre since 1 October 2018.

The former Casa de Caritat premises occupied an enormous maze of constructions built in different eras, coming to house over two thousand people. Today the CCCB occupies the original structure of three wings arranged in a U-shape around a large central courtyard: the Pati de les Dones, and the building that housed the former theatre of the Casa de Caritat, on what is today the Plaça Joan Corominas.

The remodelling project began in the year 1991 and substituted the northern wing with a rectangular block measuring thirty metres high: a glass façade that has become a mirror of the urban landscape and a lookout point over the city. The external façade on Carrer de Montalegre and those of the courtyard, conserve the decoration of sgraffiti and majolica applications added in the years 1926-1929. As for the construction elements characteristic of the original buildings, also preserved are the brich vaults and the stone pillars. The building covers a total floor area of 15,000 m2 according to the project design implemented by architects Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana, which was rewarded with the FAD and the Ciutat de Barcelona Architecture prizes in the year 1993.

In 2011, the CCCB incorporated a new building, the Teatre CCCB, the former Casa de Caritat theatre, refurbished by architects Elías Torres and Martínez Lapeña. With the Theatre, the CCCB gained a space measuring 3,164 m2 which gave the Centre improved functional conditions for implementing its programming. This new venue includes the Sala Teatre, a multi-purpose hall with an audience capacity of 500 people, and the Sala Raval, with capacity for 170 people.