Day 2, breakfast and off to Plaça de les Glòries to meet architectural historian Mónica Cruz Guáqueta from Guiding Architects. Too much to relay (itinerary here) but we walked an area in the middle of an ambitious regeneration plan that is only one of many such plans successively traced over the same streets. Fascinating on urban fabric, how to progress, maintain the life of small scale business and family life, and the inevitable tensions between civic/social ambition and the might of the developer. We visited a modern market place, walked public routes through civic buildings, and saw other planned connections fenced off where the public and private realm find themselves at odds. Superblocs look good, turns out people don't like them much - Monica however is optimistic that the next version can learn and refine, yet another overlay perhaps finding the answer.
Two buildings en route, opposite each other and opposites also in both appearance and function.
The Media ICT is all about innovation, digitally designed for sustainability and close up looks like it has something to say in its graphic form and ETFE facade, but from a distance it evaporates. Opposite is the beautiful Can Framis, an 18th century textile factory renovated by BAAS almost invisible from the street with its screen of birch and grass, un-city-like paths drawing you in to have a better look at its white-washed facades and connecting concrete slabs and projecting planes. Different approaches side by side, part of the 22@Barcelona project.
Time for one more meal, why not, at Barraca Barceloneta, buffalo salad, patatas bravas, rosé, and extraordinary cheese ice cream. Delicious.
Just over 24 hours during which we talked and saw design, making, architecture, urbanism, politics, food and wine; the last few weeks in London have somewhat marred the idea and the reality of city life, this visit reminded me that we can have wonderful cities that are good to and for those that live in them. We just need to think a bit about what we want and we cannot leave everything to market forces. Central, local government and we need to protect and encourage the everyday - housing, business, communications, retail. We will have pension funds and international investors making big moves, but we don't need to totally give in.