Heritage meetings in Valls

Català Castellano

On the morning of October 24, two facts brought us to the convent of Carme in Valls (Tarragona, Catalonia): the coming opening of the Museu Casteller (Human tower museum) in this city were the human tower tradition has its origins and the attendance to the heritage meetings that the cultural group Cafès de Patrimoni organized.

Short clarification:

  • Museu Casteller de Valls: Future Human Tower (castells) Museum of Catalonia, a project that aims to enhance the intangible heritage, history and evolution of this tradition: http://www.valls.cat/museucasteller/
  • Cafès de patrimoni: Group meetings made for and by heritage managers, museologists and other professionals linked to the world of heritage and culture, to discuss and learn about different projects, interest topics, etc.

The same day also the craft fair of St. Ursula (patron of the city of Valls) was located in the streets of the city and a series of conferences about human towers was taking place inside the convent. Firstly, the participants were shown the recently reopened (after restoration) Enxaneta Primary School, located inside the former convent of Carmen. It is a historic building that was occupied by several schools during many year. In the last years an important restoration was performed and the results show a good combination of historical elements such as medieval drawings, arches and ribs of former times, together with modern elements that live with the students. But we should not forget that in the end the space is a primary school and kids run and get dirty and need a place adapted to their needs. However the restorers have managed to mix modernity and antiquity so that young people can see that they study in an heritage site, giving value to the building that formerly existed. A good example of coexistence between usability and heritage.

The second stop was the Plaça del Blat (Wheat Square), the heart of the human tower festivals in the city, next to which the museum building construction is situated. One of the main aspects of the project is the renovation and urban regeneration of the oldtown of Valls, which for several decades has been becoming depopulated towards the modern suburbs, creating a space of abandonment and neglect. The Council therefore sought a solution and the answer came with the museum, an idea that had already been “on the air” for a long time in form of several projects and possible locations. The current project aims to create a completely new and modern building with the newest technology and used, in my opinion and saving some distances, as an “ornament building”. This concept is defined by Iñaki Esteban in his book “El efecto Guggenheim (the Guggenheim effect)” and refers to the fact that some building museums become itself a city symbol or tourist destination and a social and economic motor that restructure, modernize and improve an urban space. [1]

I think this is the objective that seeks the museum, apart from serving as the nerve centre of the human towers movement and the enhancement of this intangible heritage.


Also some streets of the area have been rehabilitated together with the construction of the museum building such as the so called “Call Jueu” or the historical Jewish quarter of the city. After this tour we went back to the convent of Carme to start the proper heritage meeting and discuss about the museum project with Jordi Bertran, the coordinator. There he explained us the guidelines they have followed to design the museum, subsidies, conceptualization; in this aspect the goal is to create a referent museum nationwide and become a benchpoint in the human tower tradition world. Recently, the name of the five companies that will present a project for the museum were disclosed. This aspect has generated controversy among all professionals of museology and culture of the territory. There is a critical sector with which we agree partly that disapproves the formula to choose the allowed participants that can present a project. This formula consists of basing the choice in economic terms, meaning that only the five companies that can prove the highest level of solvency can present their works, independently of the quality of these. This meant that many small or recently built companies did not even had the chance to present their proposals, a way of making the big fish bigger.

It is also true that in such huge projects a high quality work is expected and this is the main parameter considered when choosing big companies that have already made their name in the field.

The Heritage meetings Cafès de Patrimoni are indeed a very enriching experience that helps to create debate and reflection. We look forward attending the next meeting!

Guiomar Sánchez

[1] ESTEBAN, I. El efecto Guggenheim. Del espacio basura al ornamento, Anagrama, Barcelona, 2007

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