Can Masdeu is a squatted[1] social centre in the valley of San Genis, part of the Collserola Park in Barcelona. It was squatted by an international group of activists in December 2001, and the terraces surrounding the masia (country mansion) are cultivated by neighbors who live in the neighborhood below, Nou Barris.

Can Masdeu became famous in April 2002, when over 100 national police came to evict and 11 squatters defended the house in positions of passive resistance. Unable to remove the squatters from lockdowns, tripods, on ropes and planks extended out of windows, and even a hanging bathtub, the police waited for the squatters to get thirsty and hungry and come down. After three days of media attention, hundreds of protesting onlookers chanting slogans and stopping traffic on the local highway, and even a solidarity group organising a sit-in in the Spanish Embassy in Holland, the judge ordered the police to leave and the case reopened. Later rulings favored the owner, the Hospital of San Pau, but no eviction notice has been given.

The squat houses a social centre, the PIC, or Punt d'Interracció de Collserola, which opens Sundays to the public and offers a variety of activities and workshops, often related to environmental issues, permaculture and organic farming, communal living, and community autonomy. Parts of the masia were built in the 1600s, and in the early 20th century the house was a nunnery and leper hospital. The stigma of leprosy may have been a factor in its being abandoned for some 53 years, and substantial renovation has been undertaken to make the space liveable. The PIC and the rurbar, a cafe serving local and organic meals and drinks, is open most Sundays from noon until evening. Activities are listed on the website and in the newsletter Infousurpa.

As of 2007, more than 28 people live in and share the house. Community participation includes bi-weekly meetings, organic gardening, housework, and two collective meals per day, and each member contributes roughly 25 euros/month to food costs. The working languages of the house are Catalan and Spanish, but as it is an international group, English, Italian, French, Basque, and Esperanto are also spoken.

The name Can Masdeu also refers to the masía -a traditional Catalonian patriarchal mansion or plantation house - where the social centre is located. 'Can' means 'property', and the Masdeu family were the owners of the mansion in the Middle ages. It was built on an ancient Roman site, and presumably was surrounded by vineyards before the city expanded into Nou Barris.


  1. Notes From Nowhere, p.301


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