Transforming Barcelona: The Renewal of a European Metropolis

Transforming Barcelona: The Renewal of a European Metropolis

Transforming Barcelona: The Renewal of a European Metropolis

Transforming Barcelona: The Renewal of a European Metropolis


This unique book, written by local experts in the city, deals with the transformation of Barcelona during the last twenty years. Barcelona has been held up as a model of urban planning and economic regeneration amongst built environment professionals. The redesign of square parks and streets throughout the city in the 1980s first attracted attention and praise and then the 1992 Olympics hosted in the city raised international awareness. The city received many awards and accolades including a Gold Medal from the RIBA. The selection of writings is well illustrated throughout with maps, drawings and photographs and will be of interest to architects, planners and urban designers as well as those interested in the social and economic impacts of regeneration.


Tim Marshall

As a city, is Barcelona particularly different from many others in Europe, especially in southern Europe? It is on the sea, and has been a port, as so many Mediterranean cities. Might we not expect a history of urban change and planning not unlike many cities in similar situations? There are after all many factors common, in very broad terms, to such a category as the "Mediterranean city"-climate, some geographical factors, certain similarities in the switchback of governmental change and war, a gradual process of modernization, particularly during the twentieth century, surges of urbanization, especially after the 1950s.

Yet Barcelona has in the past 10 to 15 years become the outstanding example of a certain way of improving cities, within both this Mediterranean world and in Europe, Latin America and even globally. the collection of articles in this book seeks to go inside this phenomenon, using the writings of those in Barcelona who have been involved in the changes or followed them very closely. the book has three objectives. First, and as the main task, it aims to give an account of what has happened in the city in relation to planning and urban change since about 1980. Familiarity with these elements should help readers to understand why Barcelona has picked itself out from the wider set of cities that might have been expected to engage in similarly creative ways-but did not. Some approach to explanation will therefore be made: not from a detached, outsider's perspective, but from the understanding of leading actors in the process.

Second, brief sketches of current programmes for the city are given. What new approaches and challenges are emerging? May we expect Barcelona to continue to innovate in interesting ways, to deal with the emerging new issues?

Third, there is an assessment of what has happened overall in these two decades. This does not claim to be a comprehensive evaluation. Readers will make their own judgements from the main text, as well as from their encounters with the city. These final chapters are designed rather to present assessments from cultural and environmental perspectives.

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