The present paper exposes the main results of a research performed in Barcelona, focused on the analysis of the process of social creation of meanings that link individuals and social groups to urban public spaces. The aim is to explore the different social constructions created and used to interpret a pre-urbanized public space in a situation of conflict, that is, under confronted strategies, actions and expressions for its definition, uses and social appropriation. The dynamics of growth of western contemporary cities usually follow formal patterns that tend to dispersion and fragmentation, against compacity and social cohesion (Sorkin, 1992; Nel-lo, 2003; Borja, 2005). In Barcelona, this tendency tries to be reverted by fostering the construction of high-quality public spaces, able to maintain a critical mass of diverse population in multifunctional and sustainable surroundings, working as centralities. This strategy can avoid the abandon of urban surroundings such as historical downtowns, preventing degradation and ghettization in them by the least resourced inhabitants. Nevertheless, it can also promote questionable dynamics of ‘gentrification’ that affect substantially the previous social and constructive fabric. Sometimes, as in the case studied, that is a reason of conflict between neighbour groups and the local government, both intending to legitimate the sense of their interventions and actions upon a provisory, expectant and ambiguous urban space waiting to define its uses and publics.The space considered, popularly known as ‘Hole of the shame’, is a void placed in Barcelona’s historical city, and is the result of the elimination of the medieval edificatory mass previewed in an urban remodelling plan. The delay of the works for its re-urbanization has triggered the vindication of its transformation by neighbour groups, who have built there a green area, a resting zone and two sports fields for the youngest people, often struggling with the police forces. In this way, the space has turned into an ‘object’ of conflict and a ‘setting’ of social confrontations (Burte, 2003). Four other cases will be studied in the next steps of the research.The analysis performed, mainly qualitative, is based in systematic observation of the space referred, and in the identification of interpretative repertoires (Potter & Wetherell, 1987) inferred from the analysis of in-depth interviews to key-agents in the transformation of that space. Results put in the centre of the process of meaning-construction social identity features, symbolic appropriation (Pol, 1996) and the complex process of attribution within a context of interests and power-relations, concluding that ideological mechanisms (Thompson, 1999) are pre-eminent defining modes of space meaning creation, producing and reproducing the conflict when thinking and acting a controversial future public space. It also appears in all the interpretative positions the social representation of a recognizable city model and the desire of community participatory design processes (Sanoff, 1999).