This project, made by the collective ‘Observatorio Nómada Barcelona’ (Barcelona’s Nomad Observatory), was part of the opening exhibition of the new Barcelona’s art center ‘Canòdrom-Meridiana’ (a former Dog Track). Our work proposed a confrontation between the projected city/architecture and the real one. We focussed this dialogue on the old Dog Track building, made by the architect Antoni Bonet and considered a masterpiece of the local modern architecture. The Building was also an iconographic element of the Barcelona’s periphery during the sixties. ‘Canòdrom/Canòdrom’ was an exploration of this particular building at two levels. An urban approach (linking the building to the rest of the city) and an architectural approach (revisiting the memory of this space). In both cases, we refused to analyze the Dog Track from its aesthetic qualities. The real value to be considered was its condition of ‘lived’ space linked to the city, the neighborhood and its inhabitants. So, while the ‘perfect’ man was to be the measure of modern architecture and urbanism, we chose the ‘common’ man to be the measure of what we call the real urbanism and architecture.
One of the main reasons argued to transform the old Meridiana‘s Dog Track, into a new contemporary art center, was the will to revitalize some Barcelona’s areas away from its saturated downtown. Considering this supposed intention of approaching the banks, we decided to develop the first part of this project exploring the whole perimeter of the city of Barcelona. This vast urban area is also generationally related to Antoni Bonet’s building. We tried to walk, whenever it was possible, on that thin line between the backstage and the scenario of the city. Our goal was to experience and link this variety of urban surroundings.
The second part of our work focused specifically on the building by the architect Antoni Bonet. Many are the studies that have praised this work of architecture. We also wanted to interpret it, but not from its formal values, but from his memory as a place. The Meridiana’s Dog Track was active between 1963 and 2006, being during his lasts years the only operating dog track in Spain. Located in a working-class district of Barcelona, the building quickly became a crowded meeting point for the inhabitants of an area lacking public spaces. Its free access and its generosity of space made it an ideal place, not only for gambling, but also to hang around or take a nap under the Sun. Our sight to this recent past took from in a video documentary, where the former dog track workers and users told us about their memories and experiences related to this place. This life experience was, in our opinion, the true value the Antoni Bonet’s building.
Finally, the project took part of the exhibition ‘Canòdrom 00:00:00’ in the new contemporary art center. A selection of images of our tour and the video documentary were located in the former stands of the building. Later, we presented the book ‘Canòdrom/Canòdrom. A tour of the limits of Barcelona’ with more than three hundred pictures taken by all the participants in our journey around the city.