A grand hotel without a boss

Hotel Bauen is an establishment in the centre of Buenos Aires. In December 2001, the owner abandoned it and left its employees in the street. In March 2003, thirty of them took over the place and relaunched the business, running it themselves with the help of the Recovered Business Federation in Argentina. The company now employs more than one hundred people and all decisions are taken jointly during general meetings. The 20-storey building is highly symbolic.; it was built in 1978, during the dictatorship and the Soccer World Cup. Its owner, Marcelo Lurcovich, now dead, boasted in private that he had built the Bauen without spending a cent. Thanks to his contacts in the army, he had managed to secure a bank loan which was never paid back (source: pagina 12). Since 2003, the hotel employees have rehabilitated the restaurant, the various conferences rooms and the auditorium. Concerts, festivals, radio programmes and plays are all held here. Personalities such as Danielle Mitterrand, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, Susan Sarandon and Adolfo Perez Esquivel have all pledged their support for this cooperative. The employees are now demanding the expropriation of the building. The complaint filed by the owner’s heirs led to a long court battle. The verdict fell in September 2014: Hotel Bauen’s employees can be evicted. There is one remaining chance of staying by negociating with the government. In the meantime, they carry on working. October 2015: The Buenos Aires city congress finally vote a law that gives the building to the workers cooperative. Produced with Sub.coop

View of the Bauen hotel building. It is situated in the city center of Buenos Aires, near the Palace of the Argentine National Congress.

Some of the workers of Bauen Hotel placing flags to celebrate the 11 years since they recovered their source of labour.

Hotel Bauen Entrance.

Assembly of workers of Bauen Hotel. Eva, the president, announces that they will be receiving several pounds of beef from a workers-run beef packer in the city of Bahia Blanca. In wxchange for it, one of its workers will be staying for free in the Hotel.

A client 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.

Studants are entering the Bauen hotel hall for a meeting about South American litterature.

Bauen Hotel's kitchen restaurant. A worker gets ready to start her day of labour.

Restaurant hall of Bauen Hotel. After the workers recovered it, they changed its name. Now, they call it, the hall Utopia.

Leonardo Ojeda explains to a couple of just arrived visitors, the details of breakfast and Hotel time.

Hotel Bauen's kitchen.

Three workers from Zanon, a worker-controlled ceramic tile factory located in the province of Neuquen, came to support the struggle of the Bauen Hotel workers.

A group of senior citizens comes every afternoon to play chess on the bar of Bauen Hotel. When they found out the workers could be evicted, they collected some money and they gave it to one of the workers, by saying: "this is to support your struggle".

Enrique Orlando Carajiola works in a meat-packer runned by their workers in Bahia Blanca. He needs to travel often to meet clients. He exchanges his stayings at the Bauen for meat.

Ruben is Paraguayan,he works in the cooperative for 4 years.

Marcela, maid, doing her job in a hotel Bauen's room.

Some hotel Bauen's rooms are used to store linen.

Arminda Palacios Martinez, 78 years old, working on the sewing-shop. Arminda is the oldest worker of Bauen Hotel.

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

Roberto Luis Velez, 59 years old. From the kitchen to the laundry. "All of us must know everything about the cooperative. Time goes by and we still here, so we're quieter", he said in 2011.

In 2011, Abel was head of the laundry. Now, He is 41 and has lived and worked in Hotel Bauen for 10 years.

Hotel Bauen laundry.

Lunchtime for the cooperative workers.

Lunchtime is a sociable time in the day. Maids are permitted to come to work with their little babies.

Abel Ozuna and his step daugther Iliana having lunch, in the room where the tree of them sleep in Bauen Hotel.

15 workers leave in the hotel. The bathroom is also used as the kitchen. At Abel's room, where he lives with his step daughter and his wife, Vanesa.

Abel Ozuna and his stepdaugther Iliana, in the room where the tree of them sleep in Bauen Hotel. They are sitting on Iliana's bed.

Vanesa Ozuna is preparing herself to work in the afternoon.

Iliana with the computer which have been given at public school.

Arminda Palacios Martinez is 78 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.

Arminda writes on scrapbooks the most important events in the life of the Hotel.