stories

Bauen: worker-run luxury hotel

The Bauen is a five star hotel located in the center town of Buenos Aires city. On december 2001, due to the economical-political crisis, the owner abandoned the Hotel leaving their workers unemployed. On march 2003, over thirty workers decided to get back inside the hotel and repair the facilities in order to start running the company on their own, helped by the Argentina's Worker-run Companies Federation. Nowadays, the Hotel has over 150 wage-earning workers and every decision is taken on general assemblies. This twenty story building is highly symbolic: it has been built in 1978, during the Football World Cup that took place on the last military dictatorship. His deceased owner, Marcelo Lurcovich, used to tell his friends how he had managed to build the Hotel without spending a single penny. According to the local newspaper «Página 12» the entrepreneur received a generous loan from acquaintances he had on the High Command of the Army.
Since 2003, the staff re-opened the restaurant and other spaces, like the auditorium and the conference room, were set up to held public and cultural activities.
Important figures such as  Danielle Mitterrand, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, Susan Sarandon and Adolfo Perez Esquivel visited and supported this cooperative. 

BARM0334757.jpg

Hotel Bauen, a 20-storey building, is located in the centre of Buenos Aires. The hotel workers are demanding the compulsory purchase of the hotel and the nationalisation of the company.

BARM0334757.jpg
BARM0334756.jpg

Preparing a hotel room.

BARM0334756.jpg
BARM0334759.jpg

Juan Pacifico, 68, sets the table for lunch in the hotel. «Life is good for us here compared to the rest of the country. Working for a cooperative is a good experience. The Bauen is a good example of one».

BARM0334759.jpg
BARM0334758.jpg

A meeting to organise training for employees who don't yet have it to take their high-school diploma.

BARM0334758.jpg
BARM0334760.jpg

The Brazilian lawyer, Paolo Savigny, asks for information at the reception desk. The hotel clients are from all walks of life. Since Cristina Kirchner has been president, a large number of civil servants stay here.

BARM0334760.jpg
BARM0334761.jpg

At the laundry service room, workers share a mate, during the break.

BARM0334761.jpg
BARM0333958.jpg

Unlike what happens in a traditional hotel, the maids are not watched over during their work.

BARM0333958.jpg
BARM0333957.jpg

Abel is head of the laundry. He is 37 and has lived and worked in Hotel Bauen for 8 years.

BARM0333957.jpg
BARM0333959.jpg

Lunchtime is a sociable time in the day.

BARM0333959.jpg
BARM0334767.jpg

Juan Carlos Tonarelli, 72 years-old, responsible of the printing press. «I have been here after 7 years. The first year it was all about repairing the facilities. Time goes by fast, we never stop working.... (+)

BARM0334767.jpg
BARM0333960.jpg

Repairing the service lift.

BARM0333960.jpg
BARM0333961.jpg

Repairing the service lift.

BARM0333961.jpg
BARM0333962.jpg

Bauen Hotel laundry service room.

BARM0333962.jpg
BARM0333963.jpg

Roberto Luis Beles, 56 ans. Des cuisines, il est passé à la blanchisserie. «Nous devons tous, connaître tout. Comme le temps est passé et que nous continuons, nous sommes plus tranquilles.»

BARM0333963.jpg
BARM0334770.jpg

A woman in charge of the auditorium of the Bauen Hotel.

BARM0334770.jpg
BARM0334773.jpg

Arminda Palacios Martinez is 75 years-old. She has been working as a seamstress for over 20 year at the Bauen Hotel. On this image, she's at her room. Like 15 other workers, she lives at the Hotel, which it would be impossible on an ordinary company.

BARM0334773.jpg
BARM0334777.jpg

Arminda montre ses photos de vacances à Alfredo responsable des relations extérieurs dans la salle de presse.

BARM0334777.jpg
BARM0334779.jpg

Telephone operator of the Bauen Hotel.

BARM0334779.jpg
BARM0334783.jpg

Lunch room exit.

BARM0334783.jpg
BARM0334764.jpg

Hotel Bauen

BARM0334764.jpg