El Cabanyal is a neighborhood from the city where I come from: Valencia. It’s part of the sea village, and its a beautiful historic neighborhood full of modernist “tiled” houses of a very particular architecture. On 1998, Rita Barberá, the header of the local government of the conservative People’s Party, approved a plan for extending the Blasco Ibáñez avenue to the sea. That plan implied the destruction of 1,651 houses of the neighborhood. The old fishing enclave of Cabanyal-Canyamelar is considered a Heritage site of Cultural Interest, so the plan could not be easily applied.
Some of strategies of the Valencian council for taking the demolition ahead consisted in buying 500 houses in the area to be demolished, after pressuring the owners to sell at low prices. Abandon the houses letting them (with the neighborhood) deteriorate, sending expropriation letters to all neighbors in the main artery in the affected area, modify laws in a sense that could allow the demolition, etc.
Despite the opposition about 125 houses were finally demolished.
In 2014 , after 17 years of unabated struggle from neighborhood associations and opposition parties, the prolongation plan was definitively paralyzed by the Supreme Court of Justice.*
Rapunzel was an urban intervention I made in 2008 in response to the city plan.
I highlighted those abandon/evicted houses with painted braids on it’s facades as a reference to the children tale “Rapunzel”. In this tale a princess is locked on the top of a tower with only one little window as a connection to the outside world. After too much waiting Rapunzel drops her long grown braid from the window hoping for help.
The numerous abandon/evicted houses from the Cabañal were closed for years with no one having access to them. In the same period of time the housing bubble in Valencia fueled derisory housing prices that most people couldn’t afford.
The painted braids on the abandoned houses of the Cabañal denounced the City Hall’s long term speculative plans as well as the lack of affordable housing in Valencia due to the Real State bubble. They were a call for action to get back the houses, an invitation to climb, reuse and protest.
* Wikipedia Article
*”A Tortured Cabanyal”, text by Sergin Tarín in “Houses from El Cabanyal, Valencia Modernism for the XXI century”, L’Onella, Valencia, 2013