Park Bridge Innovative Development for St Helier Waterfront, Jersey, Channel Islands, UK

October 25, 2014


Park Bridge Innovative Development for St Helier Waterfront, Jersey, Channel Islands, UK

A sloping park rises up to bridge the main esplanade road connecting Jersey’s historic city to the new waterfront developments and the Jersey’s main pedestrian and cycle route to the West of the island.

The design creates a literal intersection and a dynamic, multi-layered amenity for both sides of St Helier.

The bridge acts as a metaphor establishing a civic expression of democracy connecting and celebrating the physical and cultural histories.

The park bridge is both a crossing and a place.

It functions as a gateway to both sides of St Helier, a lookout point with expansive views, and a public park where the two paths meet.

Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-4 Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-8 Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-1Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-7  Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-10 Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-3 Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-5 Park-Bridge-Esplanade-Quarter-St-Helier-waterfront-Jersey-architects-6

Design work by Jersey and Cardiff architects Socrates Associates


Cardiff Bay Tower Proposal, Cardiff

October 12, 2014

Cardiff Bay Tower Proposal

Contemporary Architectural Development in Cardiff, South Wales – design by Socrates Associates

Cardiff Bay Tower Building

Design: Socrates Associates

Cardiff Bay Tower News

Socrates Associates’ Cardiff Bay tower proposal situated on a small parcel of undeveloped land next to the Richard Rogers’ Welsh Assembly ‘Senedd’ building in Cardiff Bay.


The tower is mixed-use – retail on the ground floor, commercial for the lower half – where the floorplates are the largest, and residential for the top half offering unique dwellings with incredible views over Cardiff Bay, Roath Basin and Cardiff at large.


Socrates Associates

Nicholas Socrates was born and raised in Jersey, Channel Islands, UK.

Nick is an accomplished urban designer with distinguished qualifications in architecture and urban design. He has worked on a wide range of ground breaking international and UK projects of high-profile masterplaning and regeneration schemes – including; St Helier Waterfront Masterplan, Bristol Temple Meads regeneration, Oxford Central masterplan, Jersey’s East Quay regeneration, Snow Hill, St Helier, Gordono School masterplan in Bristol, Bicester RAF regeneration and various masterplans for the MoD.


Nicholas Socrates holds an MA Distinction in Urban Design from the University of Barcelona. An MArch (Part 2) Distinction in Architecture from Technical University (TU) Delft and Bristol UWE. A BA (Hons) (Part 1) in Architecture from London Metropolitan University. He also hold a first class BA (Hons) in Fine Art Painting from the University of Brighton.

His slum regeneration masterplan in Agra, India was shortlisted and highly commended for AECOM’s international SOS Urban Frontiers competition in 2012. And his designs for Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s New Art Gallery and Depository were shortlisted for Architizer’s A+Awards in 2013.

Cardiff Bay Tower Proposal images / information from Socrates Associates

The origanal article was written by  w w w . e – architect . co . uk

Cardiff Bay Tower

October 12, 2014

 One Cardiff Architects dream of how Cariff Bay’s skyline could be transformed

Nicholas Socrates has come up with an idea of what could fill the empty space next to the Senedd

Nicholas Socrates’ Cardiff Bay Tower design


This is one urban designer’s dream of how the skyline in Cardiff Bay could be transformed – with a tower some 20 storeys high.


Cardiff Architects Socrates Associates has come up with an idea of what could fill in the empty space next to the Senedd with his vision for a tower that would dominate the skyline.


The plan envisages a mixed use building, with retail on the ground floor, commercial space on the lower half, and homes in the top half offering views over Cardiff Bay and Roath Basin.


Nicholas Socrates’ Cardiff Bay Tower design


It is all somewhat different from what has already been planned for the site, which at one point was earmarked as a possible location for the new BBC Cymru Wales headquarters.


The tower plan is, however, unlikely to come to fruition, and there is no planning application submitted for the idea.


Mr Socrates, 30, who lives in Grangetown in Cardiff, told us: “It’s a speculative design. I just saw an empty plot of land. I’m not in contact with the land owner.


“I do a lot of speculative stuff, in Jersey, that’s what I have been doing up till now. I see a potential area for development or regeneration, and instead of talking about it or thinking about it I prefer to do a quick model.”

He said the design was about 20 storeys high and around 75m tall.


“There’s a lot of urban expansion going on in Cardiff with building on greenfield sites,” he said, making the argument for more high-density buildings within the city of Cardiff “rather than urban sprawl”.

Matt Philips, of Knight Frank which represents landowner Aviva, said his company knew nothing about the idea.


According to the Cardiff Waterside website there is outline planning consent existing for a 60,000 sq ft office building, which would stand at only six storeys.


The area had been earmarked as one of the potential sites for the future BBC Cymru Wales headquarters, but the corporation plumped for a site at Cardiff city centre.

The Capital Square development could eventually provide up to one million square feet of office, residential and retail space

Article written by Wales Online

Analysis: Architecture – In The Age of Globalization, by Hans Ibelings

January 6, 2010

Nicholas Socrates 2008

Analysis: Architecture – In The Age of Globalization, by Hans Ibelings


Hans Ibelings is a Dutch art historian and independent architecture critic, exhibition maker and writer of numerous works including:

Supermodernism: Architecture in the Age of Globalization (1998 / 2003)

Twentieth Century Architecture in the Netherlands

Amercians: Dutch architecture in the Netherlands

Twentieth Century Urban Planning in the Netherlands

The Artificial Landscape: Contemporary Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture in the Netherlands

Un-modern Architecture: Contemporary Traditionalism in the Netherlands.

He was a professor at the Polytechnic school of Eindhoven (2003 – 2004), and a member of the scientific committee of the ‘Ciudaded, Esquinas’ exhibition in Barcelona.

Hans Ibelings , is also the editor of the international architecture magazine ‘A10 New European Architecture (since 2004).


Postmodernism literally means ‘after the modernist movement’.

The movement of modernism and the following reaction of postmodernism are defined by a set of perspectives. It is used in critical theory to refer to a point of departure for works of literature, drama, architecture, cinema and design, as well as in marketing and business and the interpretation of history, law and culture in the late 20th century.

Postmodernism is an aesthetic, literary, political or social philosophy, which was the basis of the attempt to describe a condition, or a state of being, or something concerned with changes to institutions and conditions.

The major influence in this architectural theory was the difference between the degree of the construction: its theory in relation to its practice – it is easy to agree with the theory of postmodernism (its idea), but when its actual building is built, some people critize it for being un-human, with no charcter…techno-cratic.

Postmodernism in Architecture is any of various movements in reaction to modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional materials and forms, which is marked by the re-emergence of surface ornament, reference to surrounding buildings in urban architecture, historical reference in decorative forms, and non-orthogonal angles. It may be a response to the modernist architectural movement known as the International Style


Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes both a set of cultural tendencies and an array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The term encompasses the activities and output of those who felt the “traditional” forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world.

often led to experiments with form, and work that draws attention to the processes and materials used (and to the further tendency of abstraction).

To, “Make it new!”. However, the break from the past was not a clean break.

Modernism: It is in its broadest cultural sense the assessment of the past as different to the modern age, the recognition that the world was becoming more complex, and that the old “final authorities” (God, government, science, and reason) were subject to intense critical scrutiny.

Modernity affirms the power of human beings to create, improve, and reshape their environment, with the aid of practical experimentation, scientific knowledge and/ or technology.

This movement encompassed the notion that architectural solutions can be international, such as: ‘The Matching House’ idea – that each space in each house has a special function which optimize its space. The critezen was strong. Some parts of this idea are very important, like the significance of the international architect, but in general this idea was very distant to the people, this is globalization too: one international architecture.

In my opinion this is not nesseccary, and it is more important to have particular archictectures  for each country, relating to their context: their history, culture, economy and enviroment.

Modernism encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence, from commerce to philosophy, with the goal of finding that which was ‘holding back’ progress, and replacing it with new ways of reaching the same end.

These diverse aesthetic expressions are also a reflection of individual architects and industrial designers’ personal expression, based on designers’ tendency to experiment with form, materials, and ornament to create new aesthetic styles and aesthetic vocabulary

Three different principles are identified: the expression of volume rather than mass, balance rather than preconceived symmetry and the expulsion of the applied ornament.

By the 1920s the most important figures in modernist architecture had established their reputations. The big three names are commonly recognized as Le Corbusier in France, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius in Germany. The common characteristics of this Modernism/ International style include: a radical simplification of form, a rejection of ornament, and adoption of glass, steel and concrete as preferred materials. Further, the transparency of buildings, construction (called the honest expression of structure), and acceptance of industrialized mass-production techniques contributed to the international style’s design philosophy. Finally, the machine aesthetic, and logical design decisions leading to support building function were used by the International architect to create buildings reaching beyond historicism.


The philosopher, Jacques Derrida is the father of the idea known as ‘deconstructivism’.

This thought was applied to architecture, and in 1988 MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art in New York held the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition, organized by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley) promoting this new movement as very important and significant, which propelled this school of architecture into the mainstream contemporary design circuit.

Deconstructivism in architecture, also called deconstruction, is a development of postmodern architecture that began in the late 1980s. It is characterized by ideas of fragmentation, an interest in manipulating ideas of a structure’s surface or skin, non-rectilinear shapes which serve to distort and dislocate some of the elements of architecture, such as structure and envelope. The finished visual appearance of buildings that exhibit the many deconstructivist “styles” is characterised by a stimulating unpredictability and a controlled chaos.


Today globalization plays an important role in public opinion.

It is precisely because so many phenomena are associated with globalization that its capacity to explain specific conditions is so limited and tricky to English.

After postmodernism and its deconstructivist off-shoot , a new architecture now seems to be emerging, an architecture for which such postmodernist notions as place, context, and identity have largely lost their meaning.

A new trend towards abstract, neutral architecture, which in various respects can be seen as the last word of modern architecture of the postwar International Style.

My personal opinion is that when philosophical movements and schools of thought are applied to architectural design it is fundamentally absurd and ridiculous. Architecture should be architecture: no explanations about poetry and philosophy needed – architecture is architecture.

Its relationship with the people, the environment and the economy are the practical issues which are important, and should take precedence.


Today we lived fascinated by the image of the great city;

its technological glorification.

Fascination of architecture, is a modern passion.

In the modern world local & global tensions infuse all places.

Globalization is taking place in virtually every field – exerting all kinds of direct and indirect influences on contemporary thinking.

Globalisation is very complex;

Not just the expansion of Western capital and its simultaneous spread of products, culture and style, but Free trade, instant communication & pre-9/11 open travel;

The growth of cross-cultural contacts; stores of new categories of consciousness and identities embodying cultural diffusions.

Seeking to increase one’s standard of living and enjoy foreign products and ideas, adopting new technology and practices, participating in a “world culture”.

The cosmopolitan, with an enthusiasm for urban expansion,

seeks spectacles of experience that lure an on the move elite (and the labour to serve them) from one world-city to the next.

Globalization in its literal sense is the process of making, transformation of some things or phenomena into global ones.

As a process by which the people of the world are unified into a single society and function together. This process is a combination of economic, technological, socio-cultural and political forces.

Globalization is often used to refer to economic globalization, that is, integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, and the spread of technology.

Thomas L. Friedman “examines the impact of the ‘flattening’ of the globe”, and argues that globalized trade, outsourcing, supply-chaining, and political forces have changed the world permanently, for both better and worse. He also argues that the pace of globalization is quickening and will continue to have a growing impact on business organization and practice.

Herman E. Daly argues that sometimes the terms internationalization and globalization are used interchangeably but there is a slight formal difference. The term “internationalization” refers to the importance of international trade, relations, treaties etc. International means between or among nations. “Globalization” means the removal of national boundaries for economic purposes; international trade becomes inter-regional trade.

Supermodernism is post-postmodernism, a high tech-inspired aesthetic movement that reacts against the heavy-handed, ’80s-era promotion and deconstruction.

Auge, in 1995, portrays the increasingly fleeting and fragmented nature of ‘supermodernity’ as a disappearance of place, suggesting that non-places are the real measure of our time.

These include spaces of transit and temporal occupation as well as the informational spaces of telepresence; increased mobility and telecommunications and the rise of new media being ascribed to globalisation, are altering our experience of time and space.

the virtual space through telephone, television and computer have transformed the experience of place. The layerings of virtual and ‘real’ are not seamless.

International interrelatedness and the emergence of cyberspace have changed our perception of cities. With increasing mobility space is being reduced to a transit zone, in-between spaces.

Auge’s non-places are identified as the placelessness of the modern urban landscape.

The experience of the meaningless of the built environment is mainly related to the difference between place and space

While such sites and their placeless experiences proliferate, they surely cannot be defined as outside social relations, history or identity.

Augé’s remarkable observation was that, in the contemporary world, place is giving way to “non-place.”

Places are made up out of social interactions between people, accumulating in memory to form historical meaning.

Contemporary life, however, is a relentless procession through spaces of transit. Airport lounges and freeways, high speed trains are non-places, but so are less obvious spaces: street corner ATMs, the tube, computer workstations, and supermarkets in these spaces the global meets the local in travel and transit.

In these spaces shared experiences between humans rarely develop.

Non-places, Augé concluded, remain empty, meaningless environments that we pass through during our solitary lives.

Airports, themed amusement parks, planned communities and shopping centres are utterly cut off from their surroundings.

Hans Ibelings accepts the spatial foreclosure of these new developments. He simply wishes they were better, and by better, he means less preoccupied with representation and symbolism.

The non-attachment phenomenon is regarded as one of three forms of abundance characterising the supermodern condition;

abundance of space, of signs, and of individualisation.

The latter affects the use of public and semi-public space.

Therefore non places are those places to which nobody feels any special attachment, and which are particularly common in the sphere of mobility and consumption.

Public spaces have changed from a meeting place into a highly regulated domain with surveillance, rather than social control mechanisms, but by a third party.

For Ibelings, this is simply a fact of globalization.

“The ideal of boundless and undefined space is predominating an age of information and technology, a kind of supermodernity” – (Ibelings 1998).

These non-places, are typical expression of ‘In the age of globalisation’, and with the collapse of time and space, everything can happen anywhere and everywhere, thus undermining the postmodern dogma that architecture must have a unique, authentic relationship with its context, of identity and meaning.

Hans Ibelings has cited an example for the future of the city in the Western World; as an endlessly urbanised area with no coherent form, no hierarchical structure, no centre and no unity;

Hans Ibelings, writes that modern architecture has lost all contact with context; ‘an architecture in which superficiality and neutrality have acquired a special significance’.

Metropolis cities, such as Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai & Generic city, have architecture characterised by an absence of distinguishing marks, by neutrality, particularly in relation to its context.

“Here we are in Robert Venturi’s [post]modern city, not just Las Vegas but any [post]modern city, a media-scape of office buildings and stores transformed by their corporate identities into the new language of consciousness: the sign moulded in glass and light, splashed over with the insignia or characters of logos . . . Buildings are no longer mass and weight, stone and iron, but an array of sentences spelling out the consciousness of a city, what a city means when we enter it and use its services, consume its goods. The city’s language of buildings and streets of glass and light, is a declaration of ideals . . . which the city achieves by transforming things into words, objects into signs, the dark of nature into neon abstraction and codes. . . the media-scape devours the literal materiality around it.” (Christensen 1993, p.9-10)

Supermodernism adopts the philosophy of computer product design. Structures appear portable and therefore disconnected from their surroundings. As with computers, all the detail is on the inside, while exteriors are neutral and unassuming.

‘Today’s minimalism, incidentally, is purer than ever before, thanks to improvements in technology and materials.’ Hans Ibelings

Globalized commercial architecture has developed a symbiotic relationship with a new breed of global star architects.

As cities, more than nations, now compete to attract global investment and global tourism, they seek brand differentiation and symbolic modernity.

The commissioning of public buildings by star architects is now an established marketing technique.

The buildings must be extra-ordinary and designed by one of a small band of international global architects.

A new architecture is emerging; large-scale and stylistic forms of building; monumental-conceptual architecture – signature buildings, many of them gestural, on a vast architectural scale.

This rise of a “Supermodernist” architecture is epitomized by the work of star architects such as;

Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava and Renzo Piano.

These architects deployed sensation through a play of surface and materials to sway the viewer.

There is a personalized autobiographical dimension in the work of star architects, reinforced by the media.

Ibelings even compares architects to rock stars:

The personal status of these architects is now so great and the demand for their presence is so high – from students, the lecture circuit and competitions as well as the cities themselves.

Their work is strongly conceptual and cannot rely on any detailed study of fine grain or culture of the locality.

Star architects are continually ‘on tour’: for competitions, juries, teaching posts, master-classes, interviews, conferences and lectures and the odd construction meeting.

Just like pop stars, these star architects have all developed a clear media strategy.

They have become increasingly preoccupied with merchandising.

The competitive marketing of these buildings by cities has set up an upward demand spiral.

Out of the work of the star architects, design types and styles emerge and become identified with successful cities, even before they are built.

As star architects are, by definition, limited in number, demand for symbolic and extraordinary buildings far outstrips the capacity of the star group to provide their own designs.

The conceptual nature of these star products allows global commercial firms (often, the executive architects for the star architects) to clone the trademark design characteristics of the star product.

The reproduction of the spiral or twisted forms, globular glass, planar intersection and so on, is facilitated by the use of the same sophisticated computer graphics employed by the offices of the star architects to develop and present their concepts.

This trickle-down effect and the high status of star architects within the architectural profession has influenced architecture more generally than the global origins of the star product.

This new architecture has been coined ‘Supermodern’ by the Dutch critic Hans Ibelings;

‘For this architecture the surroundings constitute neither legitimation nor inspiration for these are derived from what goes on inside the building, from the programme. This autonomy is in many cases reinforced by the fact that the building has an inscrutable exterior that betrays nothing of what happens inside … In many instances these buildings look as if they might house just about anything: an office or a school, a bank or a research centre, a hotel or apartments, a shopping mall or an airport terminal.

Architecture and its rated star system have ascended, over the more traditional visual arts, as hallmarks of global capitalism.

Architecture and design have attained a privileged status in contemporary culture.

Supermodernism was, Ibelings insisted, expressionless and neutral, generally taking orthogonal form (the Box), but quite possibly also resembling sculptural objects (the Blob).

‘Organic’ architecture represents the dislocation of ‘nature’ into a hyper-real transcendence of pure technology.

‘Nature’ now becomes ‘contemporary’.

The nature and organic design value is based on the idea that nature (all sorts of living organisms, numerical laws, sacred geometry, etc) can provide inspiration, functional clues and aesthetic forms that architects and industrial designers should use as a basis for designs.

‘Bilbaoism’, in its pursuit of the artificial representation of the ‘organic’ as something that is identifiable – and desirable –

as pure surface representation.

It is the architectural equivalent to Genetic Modification.

The city of Bilbao has Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim, the definitive iconic building. This building has restored the fabric of Bilbaos historic centre.

‘Bilbaoism’ give forces to (the contemporary) world of replicated versions of techno-organics;

Nature gets remade by technology into the representation of the essentialist forms of ‘nature’

Organic designs tend to be characterised by free-flowing curves, asymmetrical lines and expressive forms.

The high technological development in glass and steel and other material over the last ten years is an important factor for this surge of modern architecture.

Integrating the latest construction technology in architecture has become an accepted trend, underlying a truly modernist belief in progress and reason.

These latest technological developments make it possible to

design and build buildings which the modernists had

envisioned and dreamed about in the early phase of

modernism, but did not have the technology to actually

build buildings which could be so sleek and almost translucent.

Mies van der Rohe’s vision of glass tower high rise buildings, conceived in the early part of the century, for the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, which could only be realized 70 years later.  Also buildings as the ‘Bibliotheque Nationale’ in Paris by Dominique Perrault, the ‘Fondation Cartier’ by Jean Nouvel or the Louvre pyramid by the Amercian architect Pei – are a few examples.

Only at this point in history modernism in its pure form and

dissolution of materiality can be fully realized.

Hans Ibelings labels these contemporary works of minimal form, minimal material, and minimal character as “Supermodern.”

He describes their disabling abstractions and transparencies in profound & critical terms:

“Today’s [architectural] minimalism, incidentally, is purer than ever before, thanks to improvements in technology and materials. This purity is found both in the extraordinary aesthetic architecture of the likes of Tadao Ando, Wiel Arets, and John Pawson, and in the ‘almost nothing’ of today’s average glass box, the shape of which is also more abstract than ever before […] This simplicity is not primarily a reaction to the aesthetic of visual excess, although that aspect certainly plays a role. In essence, the new abstraction is an expression of a fundamentally different attitude to architecture, which it sees less and less as significant and filled with symbolic meaning, and more and more as a neutral object.”

Minimalism is the design of simple forms, in aesthetics without considerable ornaments, simple geometry, smooth surfaces etc.

Apparently the more cultivated a person becomes, the more decoration disappears.

Simple forms will free people from the everyday clutter, thus contributing to tranquillity and restfulness.

The banishing of unnecessary ornament was articulated as a sign of hope, freedom and authenticity.

Local distinctiveness is often not a desirable characteristic.

The intention is that the building should be an iconic global product.

John Chase states in contemporary architecture: ‘Icy images of monuments, strictly by architects of global stature, float in a sea of seductively neat observations celebrating the promise of a homogeneous worldview.’

Postmodernist buildings—and some design products— are designed in accordance with the particular characteristics of a specific place, achieving visual harmony between a building and its surroundings, as well as achieving continuity in a given area.

Striving to create a connection between past and present forms.

Postmodern practitioners always tried to find some way of expressing the building’s purpose, either by following the conventions of building typology or by adding symbolic pointers;

Preserving and creating regional and national identity

Supermodernism would argue that even if this intention is present it will not necessarily be apparent to the users.

Hans Ibelings, focuses on ‘the undefined, the implicit, qualities that…find powerful expression in a new spatial sensibility.”

All design involves preconceptions about the nature of the community in a broader sense, whether they are conscious or not.

Experiential richness cannot be created by accident, or without a basic understanding of the sensibilities of those who will be using the space.

The development of the aesthetic reality, which characterises contemporary architecture and industrial design, by means of

individual self-expression or one’s inner spiritual self and creative imagination, inner resources and intuition are utilized  as the base used when designing.

This philosophy is closely linked to a number of artistic values found in movements like Expressionism and the Avant-garde art movement. This design value is closely related to abstract forms and expression, personal creative liberty, elitism and being ahead of the rest of society.

Expressionistic form, which can be found, to some extent in the “air” of a given time and each generation, should generate an aesthetic style that expresses the uniqueness related to that time.

Every age has a certain spirit or set of shared attitudes that should be utilised when designing. The Spirit of the Times denotes the intellectual and cultural climate of a particular era, which can be linked to an experience of a certain worldview, sense of taste, collective consciousness and other-than-conscious greater awareness.

The 20th century has been marked by the re-emergence of environmental values within Western societies.

Environmental problems and challenges found in the 19th and 20th centuries led to a development where environmental values became important in some sections of Western societies. These values can also be found among individual architects and industrial designers.

Environmental technology, along with new environmental values have affected development in cities across the world. Many cities have started to formulate and introduce; eco-regulations concerning renewable resources, energy consumption, sick buildings, smart buildings, recycled materials, and sustainability.

50% of all energy consumption in Europe and 60% in the US is building-related.

The future of architectural will be tested in this latest and most urgent global crisis; the survival of the ecology of the planet, such that it will continue to support our global civilisation.

This is the supreme challenge for globalization: the cause, the effect and the resolution are and will be global and local.

It will affect all aspects of social, political and economic life and it will have a profound impact on architecture.

El Espacio Raptado, by Javier Maderuelo

January 6, 2010

El Espacio Raptado, by Javier Maderuelo

Nicholas Socrates


Javier Maderuelo in El Espacio Raptado, analyzes the rich volumes of “interferences” that have taken place between architecture and sculpture from beginnings of the decade of the Sixties.

A renewed interest is initiated to locate the fine arts within the framework of architecture, with a purpose of knowing and establishing new concepts within both disciplines – interrelated.

Sleepy Sculpture since the glorious times of Ancient Greece, has been waking up, during this century, revitalizing certain aspects related to the architectural language.

The common rediscovery of the interrelationship of Architecture and sculpture is generating a series of rich relationships and interests between the two disciplines;

A revolution of the arts is activated.

Discovering affinities in the intentions and procedures that lead to the convergence of new borders between architecture and sculpture.

This no-man’s land between the two borders of the movements of architecture and sculpture, are constantly being transgressed

with an interchange of techniques and experiences.

Connecting the physical and conceptual space

The placed forms keep us awake to the changing nature of todays art.

Architecture, other-than-consciously, is inspired and interested in the world of fine art,

Sculptures overflowing in their scale occupying comparable volumes to those buildings around it have a defendant architectural character.

They use their own geometry to the architecture.

Their External forms and elements are taken from the construction of buildings.

The strategies of simulation and reconstruction techniques used by the architecture and the simultaneous sculpture are interchangeable in such a way that, the works seem to belong to a same formal family and ideological position.

Instead of the sculptures being a model of itself, they are constructed, and made with architectural materials like bricks, steel profiles & reinforced concrete.

The near space, geometry, the scale, the materials and even the techniques and the procedures, of the sculpture; and its new space proposals, developed in the sculpture, are conditionally formal and conceptually – the same as architectural expositions and creations.

Extending to the area being developed on urban scales –

Definitively they talk the space of architecture;

Its forms, functionality and anthropomorphist frame.

The high technological development in glass and steel and other material over the last ten years is an important factor for this surge of modern architecture.

The architects, thanks to these new materials, like concrete, steel, glass and plastic, have been able to free themselves of the heavy walls of load and are able to control the three-dimensional space in similar ways to the making of sculptures.

Only at this point in history modernism in its pure form and

dissolution of materiality can be fully realized.

These latest developments make it possible to design and build buildings which the modernists had envisioned and dreamed about in the early phase of modernism, but did not have the technology to actually build buildings which could be so sleek and almost translucent.

Hans Ibelings, labels these contemporary works of minimal form, minimal material, and minimal character as “Supermodern.”

Mies van der Rohe’s building vision of glass tower high rise buildings, conceived in the early part of the century, for the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, could only be realized 70 years later.  Also buildings as the ‘Bibliotheque Nationale’ in Paris by Dominique Perrault, the ‘Fondation Cartier’ by Jean Nouvel or the Louvre pyramid by the Amercian architect Pei – are a few examples.

What has the architecture and the sculpture of previous years have in common?

The similarities, and distinguishes and their causes of both disciplines continue to maintain their own character.

In the past, sculpture has always been imbued with the traditional forms of the architecture.

A same style, was common to both works, complementing each other, in the monumental mission

The functional union towards these works acquired a dominant space effect.

Many of these sculptures lose their force when are uprooted from their primitive location to be located in museums,

the sculptural work was thought and realised based on the environmental urban space or of the specific place, which gives a sense of unity, also taking its own essence as well.

A good part of the sculpture of this century is not figurative

Abstract art can be considered the most representative art of this century

With the Intention to be pure art.

An expression of the artists feelings.

Or the aesthetical experience of the observer.

Sculpture is the expression of an identity,

expressing its beauty through the connection of life & form.

It’s the creation of a prototype in every new work.

The concentrated quintessence of the city

Opening up a perspective allowing us to  understand the social contruction of the art.

The public sculpture has to be open, usefull and common.

The public sculpture represents the search for a cultural history;

With certain social functions.

With a shared reference and an experience of collective values from its own aesthetics.

Each work existing according to the different configurations and materials related to the industrial processes with which these works are elaborated.

Overlapping and mixing dissimilar fragments, form possibilities of metaphorical suggestions.

Extracting an eternity of transitory, archetypal and futuristic forms;

offering new readings that serve the reality.

Maintaining humanities state of creative uncertainty against the apparent security of the normative state of the art.

waking up the imagination of the viewer that hungers them to follow their life until the end of this exciting adventure.

Art always offers us a story of how each city/ area sees its self in relation to its era and its physical enviroment. Speaking of the strength of the culture.

The qualities and virtues of a space, respond to and, are summed up by the art work.

The art work becomes symbolic for the collective.

The quality of the space understood by the whole: A strong important symbolic space.

Public art, now integrated in the collective experience, becomes a value of social interaction and communication.

Creating a pleasure and commercial centre with extensive areas for recreation and peace.

When seen from two different disciplines; they try to have a discussion on the space of the same physical place that is formed between both.

placed in a plane of equality with the architecture;

sculpture wants to compare its self with the architecture.

It does not compete with the architecture, nor tries to occupy its dominos: simply they try to compare themselves,

The relationship between both arts cannot be specified in terms of comparison – to understand the concept, it is necessary to perceive the poetic placings of the physical manifestations.

Sculptures, with the qualities of “presence” have been able to dominate on majors scales.

trying to obtain that the work manages to be centre of attention to its spectators – the presence quality is not a new discovery.

resources are used to accentuate the centralising of a powerful centre that, like a magnet, is able to attract the glances of the spectator.

Specific geometry characterized to minimalist works acquires a forceful and specific physical presence.

In some ancient cases/ periods the public sculpture is used as a power demonstration;

In front of the enermy, and as a threat, also for a symbol of strength in front of their own people. This is the case of the Egyptian & Aztec temples and pyramids.

The predominance of the monument, in classical & neoclassical sculptural & architectural, arise in the city like an imposition of power; demonstrated with commemorative reinforcements of the exhalation of saints and celebrities;

the raising of the human figure like the supreme subject.

It is the power of supposed political, military or cultural victories, or based on a being, of ontological permanence, of an incarnated objective beauty; establishes a dialogue union between monument and city, so that history and the public, through art, does not forget the figure and name of that personality of power.

The construction of museums at the end of the XVIII century allows the access to people for the contemplation of these collections.

Within the continually maintained  walls of the museum, there is a certain private air.

The museum is like a support, a shop window, where by the artist “installs” his plastic work

An “architectural installations” contents share similar ideas.

The painting of representational spaces took a radical turn in the age of the cubist movement; the possibility of not having to represent reality, emanated from the first experiments of abstract painting.

Almost simultaneously, architecture too changed dramatically,

sculpture followed.

In the Sixties sculpture overflows the container of the museum or the gallery of art to invade the public space.

The sculpture conquers great sizes,

It recovers the place, seizing a meaningful capacity.

Taking art out of the galleries into the public domain,

With the motivation to transform and to enrich.

Public art can live in natural parks, parks in the city, libraries, hospitals, streets, squares, plazas, housing estates, public buildings, shopping centres, airports,

A very wide context.

Anywhere where people work, live and take their leisure.

Public art can take on many different forms and shapes;

Small sculptures, big sculptures, murals, paintings, street furniture, buildings, fountains, bridges and arches, communication towers, signalling systems, sport infrastructures…

Also in the Sixties, sculpture and architecture begin to happen as one continued series of interferences, covering an extensive fan of possibilities.

The conquest of the functionality of the sculpture; its interference in the field of the architecture is realised in the beginning of the Seventies, whose mission is to alter the space and to transform it into its perceptual content, emphasizing, its unsuspected particularitities.

“The function of the sculpture consists of seizing and occupying the space,” Carl Andre.

Is it justified for its function?

The function(s) of art in urban space exist regardless of the artistic creational intention.

Public art has different functions;

  1. to commemorate
  2. to improve the visual landscape
  3. to help economic regeneration – through tourism and investment
  4. to help artistic and cultural regeneration
  5. to identify a community
  6. to help people manage a public space
  7. to improve public quality of life

An ornamental boost; “All is valid”

Public art, working in relation with the rich surrounding architecture and landscape, where space is created and the measurement of time is curved and is transmuted.

the recreation of spaces, is similar to that inside an art museum.

Thinking about public art and its integration into urban spaces

What do we consider to be art?

And what do we/ can we not consider art?

Not all art located in a public space is public art.

Public art, generally speaking, in its traditional, generic sense is an artwork placed in a public space, which is ordered, paid and property of the state.

There it is conceived and achieved according to a set environment.

A specific type of art, placed in open public space, whose destiny is the eternity of non specialized citizens in contemporary art.

It is not a style and it develops regardless of forms or the materials and scales.

Public art, when used in its universal sense, includes many different possibilities;

v Being public art existing against private art  – carried out and  placed by private initiative, which is paid by all.

v Art in public spaces, private initiative art or semi-public art, which includes corporate art.

v Art in space and public use, in spaces which have a public function.

v The artwork is private or has a semi-public nature.

“Urban place is a place of objects…things made – and between the objects & the work of art there is a hierarchy difference;

a difference in the quality, the value – but always within the same category or the same series.” [1]

Urban spaces can be defined as in a series of graduations between public & private.

Art in urban spaces is making up an urban phenonomen.

Public art is made for the citizens & is located in his/ her environment.

“Works of art” – being monuments or moving objects – make up the environmental fabric of modern life.

There is always a close relationship between art and the city;

Man and his physical environment created by himself – being a reflection of man (who created it), whilst simultaneously influencing him and his behaviour.

The city has always been a setting where the cultural manifestations of each historic period have met. An essential aspect for the definition of the city.

Its image transforms itself due to different social, political and economic situations.

The city being an ever-evolving work of art.

Urban art is an integrated art in urban space

Environmental art is an art closely linked to the environment.

Art in the landscape is found in gardens and rural environments

In each of these cases – the function and relationship is established with/ by its environment; to the public will vary significantly.

In rural civilisations public art does happen and has a very complex social strategy.

There are always differentiating controlling functions of art, which are always present, but with predominant aspects in different stages.

The concept of public art is closely linked with that of public space

“a common ground where people carry out the functional activities and rituals that bind  a community, whether it is in their normal daily routines, or the periodic festivities.”

WAA, Public Space. Cambridge University Press USA 1992

All public art becomes a part of the visual culture.

There are different types of urban spaces.

The re-use of abandoned or neglected or under used areas becomes apparent.

As public life develops with the culture – new spaces are needed, and older ones remain discarded or inactivated.

Cultural action, through cultural programs, can activate determined spaces.

The positioning of the sculpture must be appropriate according to the different placings on the urban geography

preserving the cultural and environmental heritage.

Ramonede Josep, “Comunicacion”. La Vanguardia 30. 12. 1994

“at present public space can be equally ‘Las Ramblas’, as some big stores, a park and a football ground, the street, and a big disco.”

All spaces except for those strictly private can be considered public spaces.

An ideal space is supportive, democratic and meaningful.

a sculpture healthily integrated with the urban environment.

is the art work which is part of the architectural fabric.

or has it been placed there in relation to internal or external architectural spaces?

Public art, in the past, is sometimes critized for being: half-hearted, or inappropriate.

It can be considered as a decorative after thought;

“from bad to worse”, or “the turd in the plaza”.

Kapoor, the artist of the tremendous Cloud Gate Sculpture situated in Chicago’s Millennium Park, explained that what is often meant by the label ‘public art’ is more closely related to ‘a decoration in front of a building’ rather than a genuine consciousness of space. To Kapoor, this misunderstanding has always been a challenge because, in most cases, the art object made for a public place is planned as an independent entity. The relation between artistic creation, the architecture and environment is not taken into account. According to Kapoor, the conception of a public artwork

must be connected to issues concerning the ‘space outside’ and should not be confined to the object itself.

Interdisciplinary is necessary to therefore observe these works from a multiple perspectives.

The efforts aim at the encountering a common space exposing a shared sensitivity.

Milizzia set three basic principles for art in public spaces;

  1. They have to be significiant and expressive.
  2. With a simple structure.
  3. With a clear and brief interpretation.

From the moment in which the architect plans the presence of public art in the space – the aesthetic and the strategic value that it requires has to be considered and its implications for the enviroment.

Public art contributes to the collective visual quality and converts spaces into places for people – distinguishing an urban space and providing an identity – contributing to creating pleasant environments.

The possibility of such a profound transformation of space depends on the artist/ architect having taken physical and environmental factors into context.

Integration of various disciplines: psychology, anthropology, planning, architecture, fine art, contemporary art – and their implicated areas of responsibility – political and bureaucratical;

All contribute to the attainment of sound and foreseeable results.

The process of artistic creation of public work should be similar to that followed and performed in an architectural project, in the way in which, it can be changed accordingly to others varying needs and requirements.

There is a fine line between public art and architecture.

The artists projects are placed in the spaces created and modified by the architect.

The space produced by the artist is inscribed and operates in the architectural space.

Artists are to be included in the conception of architectural forms, at an environmental level: Environmental configuration by Artistic intervention at the creational stage.

The sculpture preferably is developed in the space. It takes part in the construction &  reconstruction of the territory, and too on the urban planning.

Integral art in the environment becomes a generating focus inn the urban space.

The integration of public art depends on the interaction that it maintains with the environment & with the perception one has of it

The integration of public art, in a specific context, referred to by its form, by the individual and the community – and their level of acceptance and appreciation of it.

(Light and sound are the two fundamental aspects that exert stimulus in human beings).

Integrating environmental stimulation and aesthetic experience.

And how does it affect the use of the space?  What are the publics needs?

It is important to define these questions as a part of its conception.

The publics needs and wishes are considered and worked integrally with the aesthetic and stylistic aspects – Avoid form prevailing over function.

Stylistically pleasant art, possessing such flavour, with characteristics which are accessible and comprehensibly understanding – in both scale and form, achieves remarkable results for social integration developing human relationships.

Art has deep social dimensions, which makes it popular and communicatable.

The art must be accepted and appreciated by the largest number of people

There is a communication between art and observer

The conscious mind looks at the work and appreciates its merits as an independent piece.

Whilst the other than conscious mind sees and responds accordingly to the relationship with its placing.

The artwork always brings about a change in the environment

Does the intended art work imply a change on the usage and status on the proposed site? which will affect the community?

“This requires some knowledge on social and intellectual history, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, and art. In short it requires knowing how a given group sees and values the world in which they live and how this vision and values affect their action.”

Rapoport A, Aspectos de la calidad del entrono, La Gaya Ciencia, Barcelona 1974.

There is a growing concern in developing countries about the precedents of the micro-cosmic environmental conditions.

There are serious imbalances in the life styles and therefore the human psyche of many.

Key social issues we believe must be addressed in the future evolution in public spaces.

Public space and its use can help create a more human culture.

Public art must now go further than just being artistic.

They must have a social duty contributing in a direct and committed way;

For the improvement of the environment and consequently human behaviour, providing more comfort, security, peace and pleasure.


El Espacio Raptado, by Javier Maderuelo.

Public art & its intergration in the urban enviroment,

by Montserrat Casanovas.

Public sculpture, interaction between disciplinary fields

by Ascen Garcia.


[1] Argan G.C, historia de la ciudad como historia del arte,

Public Participation

January 6, 2010

Nicholas Socrates 2009

Urban Design: Art, City, Society.

Public Participation

Public participation is the involvement of people in the creation and management of their built and natural enviroments.

Its strength is that it cuts across tradition professional boundaries and cultures.

The activity of community particiaption is based on the prinicple that the built and natural enviromnets work better if citizens are active and involved in its creation and management instead of being treated as passive concumers.

The main purposes of participation are;

To involve citizens in planning and design decision making processes and, as a result, make it more likely they will work within established systems when seeking solutions to problems.

To provide citizens with a voice in planning and decision making in order to improve plans, decisions, service delivery, and overal quality of the enviroment.

To promote a sense of community by bringing together people who share common goals.

Participation should be active and directed, those who become involved should experience a sense of achievement.

Traditional planning procedures should be rexamined to ensure that participation achieves more than a simple affirmation of the designers or planners intentions.

The Importance of Participation

The planning system is meant to reflect the general wishes of the local community and there is a need on the local authority to consult widely during the formulation of a Local Plan and in the operation of the development.

The fact that the Council is made up of elected members ensures a certain level of representation, but wider public consultation is required.

When a planning application is submitted the local authority publishes details in the local newspaper and, in some circumstances, a notice is displayed adjacent to the site. In cases of special sensitivity, individual households in an affected area might be asked for their opinions or there may be a small public exhibition.

However, in most cases, if members of the public wish to find out what is proposed they have to visit the planning department, request the material that has been submitted and examine it on the premises. They can then write to the planning committee if they have any objections.

No matter what the scale of proposal, development control can be thought of as a process of negotiation: at its simplest, between the applicant and the local authority, with only rudimentary involvement by the public. In the most complex cases it involves a prolonged process of ‘trading off’ between parties, and high-profile public debate.

Not all of the local authority’s, or the public’s interest in a proposal will be in its visual form: they will also wish to consider its functional content; its impact on the environment (on traffic in particular) and on the local economy.

However, we are concerned here with the visual modelling of proposals, and the ways in which the traditional method of depositing plans and physical models is being replaced by digital methods which have the potential to be developed as interactive tools for use in the negotiation process.

Characteristics of Participation

Although any given participation process does not automatically ensure success, it can be claimed that the process will minimize failure. Four essential characteristics of participation can be identified;

Participation is inherently good.

It is a source of wisdom and information about local conditions, needs and attitudes, and therefore improves the effectivenenss of decision making.

It is a means of defending the interests of groups of people and of inderviduals, and a tool for studying their needs, which are often ignored and dominated by large organizations, institutions, and their bureaucracies.

With the goal of achieving agreement about what the future should bring.

Determination of Goals and Objectives

The planning that accompanies the design of any participation program should first include a determination of participation goals and objectives.

Participation goals will differ from time to time and from issue to issue.

Participation is likely to be percieved differently depending on the type of issue, people involved and political setting in which it takes place.

If differences in expectations and perception are not identified at the outset, and realistic goals are not made clear, the expectations of those involved in the participation program will likely not be met, and people will become disenchanted.

To address participation effectively, the task should conceptualize what the objective is for involving citizens. For example, is the participation intended to;

Generate ideas.

Identify attitudes.

Disseminate information.

Resolve some identified conflict.

Measure opinions.

Review a proposal.

Provide a forum to express general feelings.

Planning for Participation

Once planners have identified the overall goals and objectives for the participation process, planning for participation requires the following steps;

Identify the inderviduals or groups that should be involved in the participation actively being planned.

Decide where in the process the participants should be involved, from development to implemenation to evaluation.

Articulate the participation objectives in relation to all participants who will be involved.

Identify and match alternative participation methods to objectives in terms of the resources avaliable.

Select an appropriate method to be used to achieve specific objectives.

Implement chosen participation activities.

Evaluate the implemented methods to see to what extent they achieved the desired goals and objectives.

All Individuals and interest groups should come together in an open forum.

In this setting, people can openly express their opinions, make necessary compromises, and arrive at decisions acceptable to all concerned. By involving as many interests as possible, the product is strengthened by the wealth of the input. In turn, learning more about itself strengthens the citizens group.

The Process is continuous and ever changing

The product is not the end of the process. It must be managed, re-evaluated, and adapted to changing needs. Those most directly involved with the product; the users, are best to assume those tasks.

The professionals role is to facilitate the citizen group’s ability to reach decisions through an easily understood process. Most often this will take the form of making people aware of the alternatives. This role also includes helping people develop their resources in ways that will benefit themselves and others.

The Value of Participation

Informing a large audience about proposals, generating interst, securing approval can take the form of a community meeting, also reffered to as a public hearing or a public forum. An informal meeting, hearing, workshop, or other public gathering of people to obtain comments from the public or other agencies on a proposed project permit prior to the local government’s decision. Public meetings allow community leaders to present project information at anytime during the process. The tight structure of such meetings does not, however, permit ample time for discussions. Although reffered to as community participation, only the most aggressive personalities tend to participate and often dominate the disscusion. Public reactions in public meetings are often taken by a vote through a show of hands. The key to making community design work effectively is to incorporate a range of techniques for enabling proffessionals and citizens to creatively collaborate, where voting is replaced by consensus decision making.

A wide range of techniques are avaliable to designers and planners. Some of these techniques have become standard for use in participatory processes, such as interactive group decision-making techniqes that take place in workshops. At the same time, designers and planners have effectively used field techniques, such as questionaires, interviewing, focus groups, and group mapping, to aquire information. In general, many of the techniques facilitate citizens’ awareness of enviromental situations and help activate creative thinking. The techniques can be classified as awareness methods, group interaction methods and indirect methods.


Data Collection as Public Involvement.



File Reviews & Structured Observation.

Case Studies.

Small Group Methods, (focus group, Delphi, Charette, etc.).

Secondary data, (e.g., Agency data).

Reviews of Studies.

Content Analyses.

Diary Methods.

Ethnographic Methods, (Field Studies, Participant Observation, Tester Audits).


Strengths and Advantages

Data can be rich, descriptive, and nuanced, expert interviews can capture complexity accurately.

Unstructured and semi-structured interview guides can be develped relatively quickly

Personal approach ma work best with hard-to-reach and elite respondent.

Costs, Weaknesses, Disadvantages

Not generablizable.

Time consuming.

difficult to record nuances or exact words.

lack of structure limits comparison.

Analysis can be time consuming.


Strengths and Advantages

Can produce results that are statistically precise.

Can generalize if sample design, questions, response rates allow.

Data can be qualitative or quantitative.

Can be an efficent way to gather information from many.

(Especially web surveys).

Costs, Weaknesses, Disadvantages

Can be resource intensive.

Low response rates, questionnaire problems can limit usefulness.

analysis of qualitative information can be time-consuming.

choice of mode (mail or web, etc) affects structure of questions.

Case Studies and Site Visits

Strengths and Advantages

Can provide in-depth information about a topic, can explain complex events and circumstances.

Multiple method approach can be corroborative – increases reliability and validity of findings.

Costs, Weaknesses, Disadvantages

Information is not generalizable.

May require travel time and money.

Analysis can be time consuming – voluminous data, subjective and hard to summarize and compare.

Selection of sites will have a big impact on the data collection.

Small Group Methods

Strengths and Advantages

Allows for group interaction on a topic.

Can surface issues or ideas not obtained from single interviews.

Experts might provide consensus opinion.

Good moderator can ensure civility and equal opportunity to be heard

Costs, Weaknesses, Disadvantages

Not a substitute for individual interviews.

Can be costly – participant incentives, travel, taping and transcription.

Data reduction and analysis can be difficult and time consuming.

Need to control agreement.

Requires trained facilitoror moderator.

Ethnographic Methods

(Field Studies, Participant Observation, Tester Audits).

Strengths and Advantages

Data can be grounded & realistic.

Convincing descriptions of real-time observations.

Data may be less distorted, when collected in their “natural” setting

Costs, Weaknesses, Disadvantages

May be challenging to get access to setting.

Travel and real-time observation can be resource intensive,

May be legal, ethical, political considerations.


While it may seem easier to simply forge ahead and make decisions on their own, there are many reasons why government and other sponsors are making increased use of direct techniques for public participation.

Public participation can help to:

Enhance effectiveness.

Get it right.

Decisions are complex, (we need to understand and include all relevant information, views, needs, and interests).

Implementation is improved with public consent and commitment.

Participation yields higher quality decisions.

Meet a growing demand for public participation.

Public desire to be involved in making decisions that will affect them.

Need for greater openness of decision processes.

Mistrust of expert advice.

Resolve conflicts.

Set priorities.

Negotiate tradeoffs.

Seek consensus.

Increase fiscal responsibility.

Establish priorities.

Find partners.

Enhance public knowledge, understanding, and awareness.

Share information.

Opportunities for stakeholders to hear each other and better understand the range of views on an issue.

Meet legal and policy requirements.

International and national agreements.

Federal and provincial legislation and regulation.

Special rights of the people.

Establish/solidify legitimacy.

Participation is fundamental to democracy.

Counter public mistrust of the “system”.

Allocate scarce resources.

Public participation processes include information exchange, public consultation, engagement, shared decisions, and shared jurisdiction.  These processes form a continuum based on the extent of involvement and role in decision making, from information exchange (least) to shared jurisdiction (most).  The processes are not separated by definitive boundaries; they flow into and build upon each other.

In order to choose the right type of process we must understand the rationale for wanting or needing to involve the public.  Each public participation category can be implemented by using a variety of techniques.

Information exchange:

Purpose: creating awareness, education, exchange of views, encouraging responsible

behaviours, and promotion of informed decision-making.

Techniques: open houses, public/stakeholder meetings, surveys, discussion papers,

publications and informal discussion.

Public consultation:

Purpose: two-way communication; getting stakeholder input, advice and feedback; discussion

of tradeoffs and priorities; and becoming better informed.

Techniques: advisory boards, stakeholder meetings, task groups, focus groups, workshops,

public hearings, and a call for briefs.


Purpose: in-depth exploration of views, perceptions and interests, with emphasis on listening

and achieving mutual understanding; exploration of values; and in some situations,

working toward consensus

Techniques: dialogue, open space technology, future search conference, and appreciative


Shared decisions:

Purpose: share responsibility, decentralize decision-making to the community level, achieve

integration, resolve conflicts, allocate scarce resources, and manage programs in a

manner that respects and reflects community values.

Techniques: delegation, legislated authority, responsibility and accountability, and local

boards of education, health services, family, and childrenís services.

Shared jurisdictions:

Purpose: recognize constitutional assignment of powers; recognize, respect and reflect

community values in governance decisions; make difficult allocation choices in a

decentralized political context.

Techniques: co-management, partnerships, collaborative processes, formal agreements.

Citizen Engagement

Citizen engagement refers to processes through which governments seek to encourage

deliberation, reflection, and learning on issues at preliminary stages of a policy process,

often when the focus is more on the values and principles that will frame the way an issue

is considered.  Citizen engagement processes are used to consider policy directions that

are expected to have a major impact on citizens; address issues that involve conflicts in

values or require difficult policy choices or tradeoffs; exploring emerging issues that

require considerable learning, both on the part of government and citizens; and build

common ground by reconciling competing interests.

Citizen engagement differs qualitatively from consultation in a number of ways,

including an emphasis on in-depth deliberation and dialogue, the focus on finding.


The following factors and principles should be considered in developing any plan that involves

public participation in the development of public policy:

Those involved in the process need to:

See the big picture.

Know why this is being done.

Stated objectives.

Processes need to be guided by clear objectives:

For overall outcomes, (for policy, planning, etc).

For public participation that are expressed in writing, (terms of reference, preliminary letter).

Clear expectations.

There’s needs to be clear about:

Roles and responsibilities.

What the public can expect from government.

Who has the final decision.

Inclusive process.  Processes for citizen participation need to:

Use processes appropriate to the level of feedback required and the available time.

Involve the right participants at the right time.

Create opportunities for expression of ‘first voice’ and social/economic inclusion.

Have clear criteria for stakeholder selection.

Know who has an interest in a decision.

The following factors are important when it comes to establishing trust:



Shared information.

Transparency of process.


Avoiding surprises.

Those designing processes need to:

Have flexibility.

Know their stake-holders.

Accommodate diverse needs and preferences.

Be prepared to use a variety of methods to accommodate diverse interests and styles.

Respect for divergent values and views.

Effective processes need to:

Place emphasis on understanding

Avoid win-lose/adversarial process

Ensure ground rules are in place


A public participation process is designed and implemented in four discreet stages, as outlined


1. Preliminary Design

(a) Situation analysis.

(b) Decision process.

(c) Information exchange.

(d) Public and stake-holders.

(e) Planning team.

(f) Approvals.

2. Developing the Plan

(a) Establish objectives.

(b) Identify and address major issues.

(c) Identify and involve the stakeholders.

(d) Choose techniques.

(e) Prepare to provide and receive information.

(f) Develop critical path.

(g) Budget, staff, resources, logistics, roles and responsibilities.

(h) Prepare to give and get feedback.

3. Implementation

(a) Follow the critical path.

(b) Apply techniques.

(c) Provide and receive information.

(d) Monitor the process.

4. Feedback

(a) Report to decision makers.

(b) Report to participants.

c) Evaluate the overall process.


A number of emerging public participation techniques provide the opportunity for shared

engagement, which has been difficult to achieve with traditional techniques.  This section

provides an overview of both traditional and emerging techniques.

Traditional techniques include print publications, public meetings, open houses, advisory committees, workshops,

bilateral meetings, and focus groups.

Emerging techniques include open space technology, future search conferences, policy dialogue, and a suite of electronic techniques.

In general, emerging techniques offer more in-depth opportunities for dialogue and collaboration, with emphasis on value exploration and reaching consensus on shared outcomes in complex situations.

It should be noted that public servants and community groups have numerous opportunities to interact with each other, exchange information and gain a better understanding of each otherís views and interests.  All consultation and engagement activities are not necessarily formal.

Traditional public participation techniques

The following are simple descriptions intended to provide an overview of the types of techniques


Publications: All consultations produce some type of published material, which may describe

the process, define the problem, issue or situation; suggest options; or request direct feedback

from readers on their views, interests or alternatives.

Public meeting: Sessions open to anyone with an interest in the subject of the consultation are

publicized and held.  Public meetings often begin with a technical overview of the situation and

process, then provide opportunity for members of the public to speak from the floor regarding

their concerns or to ask questions of expert panelists.

Open house: An open house usually communicates information about a project or proposal

through a series of displays.  Staff are present to answer questions and provide clarification.

Visitors are asked to register their views before leaving.  Information handouts can be available.

Advisory committee/task force: Groups are selected to represent a cross-section of interests,

and may be asked to prioritize, review, make recommendations, develop alternatives, evaluate,

assist, etc.  Advisory groups tend to be long-term, whereas a task force has a short time horizon.

Workshops: Stakeholders are invited to attend a meeting to review information, define issues,

solve problems or plan reviews.  Generally, workshops are expected to educate participants and

solve a problem or develop a product such as an action plan.  Most workshops use facilitation.

Target briefings: These are designed to reach specific audiences who may benefit from private

and individually tailored presentations.  Audiences for targeted briefings could include ministers,

municipal officials, media or specific interest groups.

Focus groups: Groups of eight or ten people are structured to represent a cross-section of the

stakeholders affected by an issue.  A moderator leads a discussion of the facts, exploring

participantsí feelings, values, interests, concerns, etc.

Bilateral meetings: The sponsoring agency meets directly with stakeholder groups to receive

feedback or discuss areas of interest.  This can be useful if the issue under discussion is

accompanied by a high level of conflict.

Toll-free phone line: This provides an impersonal opportunity for the public to give feedback,

provide ideas or identify issues.  The phone can be answered by a staff member who discusses

the issue directly with the caller, or by a taped message and opportunity to record comments.

Interviews:  Individual discussions with the public or representatives of interest groups may

allow participants to cover a wider range of information than is solicited on a questionnaire, and

thus perhaps to identify new issues or concerns not previously considered.

Surveys: Surveys are used to collect information, solicit opinions and build a profile of the

groups and individuals involved.  They provide information to the public and help focus public

attention on specific issues.

Public hearings: A public hearing is a forum at which stakeholders can make formal statements

about the issue at hand.  Oral statements are often accompanied by written briefs.  A panel

representing the sponsoring agency may ask questions of the presenter.  The panel generally

submits a final report with findings and recommendations.

Below are brief descriptions of six emerging techniques;

Open space technology, uses plenary circles (i.e., participants sit in a circle) and has a few,

simple rules.  Breakout sessions are organized, led and reported on by self-selected participants.

This technique can maximize the creativity, energy, vision and leadership of all participants, and

is egalitarian and inclusive.  It can be used to set strategic direction, plan or initiate a project, and develop standards, criteria or regulations.  It has the ability to maximize teamwork.

Future search conferences, are workshop conferences at which 40-80 people join forces to

visualize a desired future and then design the steps needed to get the organization there.  This

technique uses a ìwhole systemî approach and places emphasis on self-managed, small-group

discussions.  It can be used when the solution to an issue or problem resolution may require a

change in organizational mission, functions or structure.

E-participation, includes a wide range of specific individual techniques, including e-mail,

provision of Web site information, bulletin boards, chat and news groups, dialogue groups and

virtual communities.  These low-cost approaches are only available to those who have access to a computer and are useful when the policy community is spread over a broad geographic area, or where open information-sharing is important.

Public policy dialogue, involves in-depth, detailed work with a variety of stakeholders in a

committee or workshop format, usually to achieve consensus on diverse views, interests and

values.  In the policy development process, dialogue is especially useful at the value and goal

clarification stage and during option selection if tradeoffs are required.  Dialogue may last from

two days to two years, commonly two days per month for three to 12 months.  Inclusive

representation of key stakeholders, often including the sponsor, is essential.

Appreciative inquiry focuses on the positive aspects of a situation, opportunities, strengths,

proven capacities and skills, resources ó and affirms, appreciates and builds on existing

strengths.  Appreciate inquiry is a very effective way to get people to think about their

demonstrated abilities instead of listing and dwelling on problems or challenges.

Study circles, explore a critical public issue in a democratic way; analyze a problem, develop

strategies and actions; and look at issues from multiple viewpoints.  Small-group discussion

among peers is often facilitated.  Study circles have eight to 12 members and meet regularly over a period of weeks or months.  This technique is especially useful at the problem definition,

values and goal clarification, option generation, and selection stages of policy development.

Characteristics and features of emerging public participation techniques;

Engage citizens/public in a more meaningful way.

Too much emphasis in the past on stake-holders.

Reduce concern about corporatism.

Allow deeper conversations about values, beliefs, concerns.

Go beyond superficial discussions.

Develop/expose common foundations.

Collaborate and work toward consensus.

Seek win-win outcomes.

Place emphasis on understanding.

Place emphasis on desired future.

Think about/visualize where we want to go.

Move away from negative past.

Appreciate the positives and build on past success.

Appreciative inquiry.

Take what we want into the future.

Allow participants maximum freedom.

Rely on knowledge, skills, commitment and leadership of individuals.

Open space, participant design.

See a ‘big picture’ view.

Involve the whole system.

Avoid fragmentation.

Include low cost/high impact techniques:

E-techniques:  access, flexibility, narrow-casting.

E-mail, newsgroups, discussion groups, Web pages, on-line review and feedback.

Create effective policy networks.

Redefine the ‘policy community’.

Communities of interest, identity, place.

Information, education, continuous shared learning.

Virtual communities.

Fully inclusive, speaking own voice.


For each of the six stages in the policy development process, how might we engage citizens and

the community?  What factors will we consider?  What techniques might be effective?

1. Problem definition

2. Value/goal clarification

3. Option generation

4. Selection

5. Implementation

6. Evaluation

• The issue of citizen participation has gradually gained importance since the end of the 1960s.

• Various forms of participation that might improve the quality of democracy have been discussed in recent years. These include participation through constitutional reforms, the use of ICTs in politics and policy-making, and interactive policy-making. In general, the existing political institutions and the traditional hierarchical way of policy-making are not criticized.

• Citizen participation is mainly seen as an instrument to strengthen and support the way representative democracy is functioning now.

• The local or national government should take and keep the initiative in policy-making. Initiatives ought to be taken from above. The process of involving citizens in politics and policy-making should not lead to the erosion of the primacy of the representative institutions. The central focus of thought is not on citizens, but on the government.

• The role of participation is mainly an instrumental one. That is, its main objective is to give citizens and their organizations a say in the official political process. Participation is not regarded as a value in itself, but is merely aimed at producing a government.

• Participation has no other functions.

• Massive participation is undesirable and could even be dangerous. Though this is the dominant view, some authors (academics in particular), point to different, more expressive elements of participation and consider citizen participation as essential to democracy.

Guidelines for Involving the Public for Participation

Visual urban planning documents presented to the public should display data in forms which are easy to understand by a layperson, allowing for simulation of future states of a site after introducing parameters describing current state and planning conditions.

The basis for analysis is the model of current land use.

The parameters required show future states are;

Intensity of development,

Accepted height of buildings,

Buildings’ placement on the plot and other conditions that the buildings must fulfil.

The proposed documents should allow for envisioning the land use alternatives and understanding their potential environmental, economic, and social impacts.

Principles of Organization

Citizen participation in community betterment organizations and projects doesn’t usually occur by chance alone. It happens because certain principles of organization are observed at an acceptable level to the participants. Six major principles were discussed:

Citizens will voluntarily participate in a community activity when they:

  • . See positive benefits to be gained.
  • 0. Have an appropriate organizational structure available to them for expressing their interests.
  • . See some aspect of their way-of-life threatened.
  • 0. Feel committed to be supportive of the activity.
  • 0. Have better knowledge of an issue or situation.
  • . Feel comfortable in the group.

Further, citizen participation can be improved by:

  • 0. Stressing participation benefits.
  • 0. Organizing or identifying appropriate groups receptive to citizen input.
  • 0. Helping citizens find positive ways to respond to threatening situations.
  • 0. Stressing obligations each of us have toward community improvement.
  • 0. Providing citizens with better knowledge on issues and opportunities.
  • 0. Helping participants feel comfortable within the development group.
  • 0.


Public participation in urban planning in the context of e-government, or “the use of information technology to support government operations, engaging citizens, and providing government services.”

The use of the Internet to engage citizens in urban planning has been constrained by the limited availability of suitable technical tools and concerns about digital inequality, as well as a lack of a clear understanding of how technology can meet the needs of citizens and professionals.

New Internet technologies and expanding Internet access addresses these concerns, and why urban planning requires a distinct technological approach from other e-government initiatives.

Contemporary outreach can build from these early models using Internet tools to achieve consensus about and coordination of new urban development.

The Internet is a powerful tool for planners to expand the base of participants in planning processes and enhance traditional engagement approaches. Although Internet technologies are new, the practice of engaging citizens in urban development processes is not. This study contains a critical re-evaluation of planning participation history and theory in order to propose ways Internet tools can be used to realize more inclusive, democratic, and equitable planning processes.

Planners could use internet tools to enhance the practice of planning. Used efficiently, Internet tools could enhance the quality of public debate about planning issues, engage and mobilize previously apathetic citizens, and facilitate the planning process. While face-to-face communications and traditional public engagement methods like public meetings and published reports will continue to be important, they can and should be supplemented with online information and communication.

The Internet has profoundly impacted the practice of urban planning as email, websites, online Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and online research have become central to the profession. However, planner’s efforts to communicate information and interact with the public online has been minimal. Individual agencies have experimented with various tools, but many have not due to technical illiteracy, concerns about cost, equity concerns, or the usability of available tools.

New technologies are making the internet more interactive and easy to use than ever before

The Internet has several characteristics that distinguish it from other mediums of communication. Online information is ubiquitous, available equally wherever an internet connection is available. It is instantaneous, so emails and website updates are instantly reflected irrespective time or geographic distance. It is highly scalable, a website can host one visitor one day and 20,000 the next. It can be highly interactive, supporting quick and easy communication between users and sources. Online content can be highly persistent, available to find far longer and far easier than ephemeral audio and video broadcasts, or even printed documents. It can be conducive to the construction of a historical record, as all information can be available, not just the latest plan.

The Internet is uniquely suited to communicating with discrete communities of interest;

Thousands of neighborhoods, towns, and city-specific websites, called “placeblogs”, have sprung up across the country. These websites host online conversations, link to and analyze online public data, and help connect citizens who might not otherwise meet. These websites are a broad-based and relatively permanent phenomenon.

They publish and discuss information about local community planning. However, these efforts are often inconsistent, and not informed by a deep knowledge of planning processes. To the extent it is already being done, planners could help clarify information by taking the role upon themselves.

Online information enhances transparency and accountability, which benefits the least powerful participants. While elites have lawyers and resources to conduct investigations, those with the least amount of power are most reliant on public sources.

Online information can help build a constituency for planning, explaining planning policies to citizens making them better able to understand and support them in the public policy arena. Online information can help the development community learn about community concerns and also applicable laws.

Online information can help save plans from irrelevance. The persistent, iterative character of online information lends itself to linking visions, plans, and charrettes with implementation processes.

Walter Dwight Moody, the legendary promoter of the Chicago Plan of 1909, “Promotion … is the dynamic power behind the throne of [urban planning] accomplishment.”

Mind Mapping Mental Maps of the City and the Built Enviroment

January 6, 2010

Urban Design: Art City Society

Nicholas Socrates 2009

Mind Mapping Mental Maps of the City and the Built Enviroment

In class we used mental maps to get participants to express how they navigate the space in the city.

Participants are asked to draw a sketch of how they remember and would describe the space they are using on a daily bases. This personal view/ record  has the focus on perception of space based on memory, experience, personal circumstances and current concerns.

The sheet given to participants to draw on is blank. Participants are completely free on how to draw a “map”. The only rule is not to copy it from a street map or image.

Participants are asked  to record/ sketch their mental images of the space.

One of the very famous studies using mental maps is “The Image of the City,” by Kevin Lynch, about how users perceive and organize spatial information as they navigate through cities. It was carried out over five years and summarized in his 1960 book. Lynch says: “Every citizen has had long associations with some parts of his city, and his image is soaked in memories and meanings.” (Lynch, 1960, p 1) This expresses that there is some knowledge and meaning in each one of us about the environment we live in and have to navigate through. It is something that is not about North or South, exact distance measurements or overarching; objective descriptions, but rather, it is about personal experience, judgment and what is psychically important to the subject. Lynch said, “Most often our perception of the city is not sustained, but rather partial, fragmentary, mixed with other concerns. Nearly every sense is in operation, and the image is the composite of them all.” (Lynch, 1960, p 2)

Lynch used three disparate cities as examples (Boston, Jersey City, and Los Angeles). He reported that users understood their surroundings in consistent and predictable ways, forming mental maps with five elements:

Paths, the streets, sidewalks, trails, and other channels in which people travel;

Edges, perceived boundaries such as walls, buildings, and shorelines;

Districts, relatively large sections of the city distinguished by some identity or character;

Nodes, focal points, intersections or loci;

Landmarks, readily identifiable objects which serve as reference points.

Lynch provided seminal contributions to the field of city planning through empirical research on how individuals perceive and navigate the urban landscape. His books explores  the presence of time and history in the urban environment, how urban environments affect children, and how to harness human perception of the physical form of cities and regions as the conceptual basis for good urban design.

In ´Image of the City Lynch coined the term, ´wayfinder´; he defined wayfinding as “a consistent use and organization of definite sensory cues from the external environment”.

In 1984 environmental psychologist Romedi Passini published the full-length book “Wayfinding in Architecture” and expanded the concept to include signage and other graphic communication, clues inherent in the building’s spatial grammar, logical space planning, audible communication, tactile elements, and provision for special-needs users.
The map is a form of expression of these personal memories and descriptions. But although it is called a map, it has two fundamental differences; it has no scale and no objective direction assigned to it. The drawing lives of its elements and may only stand in this context, for example there are no assumed direction pointing towards north. Other methods can be a description in words.

The instructions to draw a mental map are simple. The focus lies on the content and not the beauty of the sketch, there is no right or wrong. The key is that the sketch is not copied from a map or image but rather drawn from memory.
Lynch introduces the mental map to the participants as follows: “We would like you to make a quick map of … Make it just as if you were making a rapid description of the city to a stranger, covering all the main features. We don’t expect an accurate drawing – just a rough sketch.” Lynch 1960, p 141)
It is a rather quick exercise and does not require a lot of planning and thinking. In mental map-making, there are three phases to the creation of the sketch. First is the skeleton phase, it contains most of the important information, objects, direction, names and paths. The second phase puts the flesh on by linking between memories with information and description. This will often trigger some more memories and makes the map rich and representative. The third and last phase is the beauty process, where no more important information is added, but rather the sketch is adjusted and critiqued.

Mental maps have been used in a variety of spatial research. There are studies such as Lynches with a focus on the built environment with a rather detailed  perception description. Also these studies can focus on the quality of the environment more in terms of feelings such as desire, stress, fear or happiness. Such a study has been done by David Ley in Philadelphia in 1972 or a current similar project on fear in Los Angeles by Sorin A. Matei, 2003. From participants responces he was able to create a three dimensional surface to represent the amount of fear in the Los Angeles region. This is indicated with red and green colours. While working with children mental maps are also often used as a method of expression. For example in “Environmental fears and dislikes of children in Berlin and Paris” by Olga Nikitina-den Besten, 2008 looks at the absence of children in today’s cities and investigates the highly specialized urban environment from a child’s perspective of safety, fear and joy. The aspect of drawing should not be underestimated. With children, the reaction will ultimately be ok they like drawing so the method is appropriate, but adults often have more difficulties to draw even a simple sketch. Drawing is not something adults necessarily do very often, but children are expected to some drawing.

To a great extend there is a lot of information contained within the mental maps on how people perceive the space and ultimately how people create their space. The creation of space could be something very personal, and through what the essence of mental maps are; is a very dynamic concept of temporal perception based on mood, concerns and circumstances.

22@Barcelona Project

January 6, 2010

Urban Design: Art, City, Society.

2009 Nicholas Socrates

22@Barcelona Project

Barcelona, located in the north-east of Spain and on the shores of the Mediterranean, is one of the main European metropolises, and the centre of an extensive metropolitan region made up of more than 217 towns, with a total population of 4.6 million inhabitants. It is the economic, cultural and administrative capital of Catalonia and a leader of an emerging business area in the south of Europe which is made up of more than 800,000 companies and 17 million inhabitants. Within this Euro-Mediterranean region, which includes the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Aragon and the south- east of France, Barcelona is focusing on new strategic, competitive and international sectors, and it is consolidating its position as one of Europe’s principal metropolises.

Catalonia, and its capital Barcelona, has always been a welcoming place for those visiting it. Throughout its history, many different peoples have passed through this land and almost all of them have settled here. This has made Catalonia a welcoming place, which is tolerant, dynamic and open to anything that is new.

Catalonia and Barcelona have now become one of the main economic hubs of Europe.

A driver of the Spanish economy, 21st century Catalonia is an innovative country with a highly-qualified labour force, an enviable geographical position (at the heart of Europe and connected to the rest of the world thanks to its Mediterranean ports and its international airports) and top-notch infrastructure and facilities that draw important investments year after year.

Because of the shortage of available land at least half of the new office space will have been concentrated in the 22@ district.

The 22@ district occupies 115 city blocks, with a surface of 200 hectares and with a potential to build 4 million m² of floor space. Of this, 3.2 million m² would be allocated to offices and commerce.  According to Council estimates, the transformation of the district will require an investment 12,020 million euros over a period of 15 or 20 years.

22@ Barcelona is a project that aims to fully integrate Barcelona in the new technological revolution of the knowledge economy. The Poblenou district, the main hub of Spanish industrialization during the 19th century, is today setting itself up as the leading economic and technological platform in Barcelona and Catalonia.

The plan aims to transform the entire neighborhood of el Poblenou—previously a cluster of manufacturing industries—into a hub of office and university buildings for activities and companies involved in the fields of new technologies, information, knowledge, communication, and R&D.

Facilitating its role as an incubator of new ideas, companies and products.

As a new city model the 22@ Barcelona project reinterprets the function of the old industrial fabric of Poblenou in a contemporary way, applying a new town planning model based on the knowledge culture and sustainability.

The object of the  22@ Barcelona project is to transform 200 hectares of industrial land in Poblenou into an innovative economic district, with leading edge infrastructure. It is to offer over three million square metres of modern, flexible, technological business space in the very centre of Barcelona, and is to achieve the strategic concentration of knowledge intensive activities.

The  22@ Barcelona project provides for a greater density than has traditionally characterised industrial sectors, and opts for a dense, complex urban environment which permits more efficient use of the land while, at the same time contributing to the interaction and exchange of information between the different urban agents and generating the critical mass required to achieve economies of agglomeration.

Thus the  22@ Barcelona project opts for a high quality, compact, mixed, sustainable urban model which results in a better balanced, more hybrid, ecologically more efficient city of greater economic weight and cohesion. Thus it forms part of the overall strategy “Barcelona, the City of Knowledge”.

At the same time higher levels of buildability enable urban refurbishment projects to contribute to the re-urbanisation of all the streets of the sector, generating new green spaces, facilities and housing. In short, a decisive improvement to the quality of life enjoyed in Poblenou.

Barcelona production expertise is changing rapidly: more than two-thirds of its exports now are high or medium-high technological goods. The future development of Barcelona depends on its ability to integrate new information and communications technologies and, of course, to intensify its knowledge-driven industrial activities and profit from them.

Both for its innovative conceptualisation, and for the nature of its productive activities, the 22@ Barcelona district of activities is changing the economic geography of town, and stands out as one of the areas of Metropolitan Barcelona with greatest potential.

22@ Is one of Catalonia’s and Barcelona’s main business sectors both in terms of weight in the overall economy, its importance in comparison with other European regions, and in terms of the importance given to it by companies, universities and centres of research working in this area: the Information and Communications Technologies sector (ICT)

Qualified professionals and working practices are determining factors for many companies when setting up in an area. Barcelona and its metropolitan region have highly-qualified staff and they have been chosen by more than 250 innovative companies as the location for their headquarters. Moreover, the capital of Catalonia has been considered the best European city in terms of quality of life by professionals -for six consecutive years -, and the fourth best European city to do business, according to the “European Cities Monitor 2006” carried out by Cushman & Wakefield.

Barcelona offers a variety of things that make it really attractive to live, work and to do businesses. The city is currently well positioned for new economy activities.

Good reasons to invest are clear;

01 Strategic geographical location

By road, just 2 hours from France. The gateway to the South of Europe, it boasts a port, and international airports, Free Trade Zone, logistics park, international trade fair and a city centre radius of only 5 kilometres.

02 Extensive transport infrastructure

Network of highways connected with Europe; the fastest-growing European airport; Spain’s top port and the biggest port in the Mediterranean in terms of container transport; dense network in terms of the underground, railway and buses; arrival of the High-Speed Train in 2007 and connections with the European network in 2009.

03 Centre of a large economic, dynamic and diverse area

The area of Barcelona is made up of 4.7 million inhabitants. It is the capital of Catalonia -7 million inhabitants – and the centre of the Mediterranean Rim, a large economic area with 18 million inhabitants. It represents 70% of the GDP of Catalonia, it had a GDP growth rate of 3.1% in 2004 – above the European average -, it is the sixth biggest urban agglomeration in Europe and it is fifth in terms of its concentration of industrial activity.

04 Successful foreign investment

Fifth-best city in Europe for business, it represents some 20% of the annual foreign investment

in Spain. There are 2, 700 foreign companies set up here and 97% are satisfied with their investments. Barcelona has also consolidated its position as a centre for the European divisions of multinationals.

05 Acknowledged international positioning

Barcelona fares well in different international rankings, which show its highly favorable urban position, its capacity to attract foreign capital, its entrepreneurial character and the quality of life.

06 Human resources prepared for the future

Highly educated; highly productive, one of the most qualified in Europe according to the OECD; 5 public universities, 2 private universities, prestigious business schools: IESE, ESADE, EADA; 27 international schools;

extensive penetration of new technologies; good character for innovation and creativity.

07 Excellent quality of life

Top city in Europe in terms of quality of life. Mild climate, sunny, beaches, close to top quality ski resorts; splendid cultural and leisure offer; network of 4,500 education institutions; modern and accessible health system. Easy to get around on public transport. A system of nature parks surrounds the city.

08 Large urban projects for the future

Transformation of 1,000 Has. and 7 million m2 of build surface area. Llobregat area: a bet on the logistics sector and internationalisation, with enlargements to the port and the airport; Besòs area: urban renewal, sustainability and research centres; La Sagrera-Sant Andreu: arrival of the high-speed train; 22@Barcelona:

the new technology and innovation district.

09 A competitive real estate offer

Extensive stock of offices, commercial premises and industrial plants with an excellent price-quality relation. The construction of housing is also in an expansive phase.

10 Unique public-private co-operation

Barcelona City Council and the Catalan government are very much in favour of companies; success in traditional public-private collaboration has been a key in the transformation of Barcelona.

Xavier Cama, director of Barcelona consultants Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker, believes that the majority attitude is to wait for the 22@ developments to be consolidate

Investors in the past have preferred a more central location along the Diaganal and Passeig de Gracia.

‘If the buildings in progress are rented, the international investors will come,’ say Cama.

For Cama 22@ will be converted ‘into a tertiary zone of offices and commerce, important to the city.

It will not, however, to be able to focus on new technologies, since many of the companies are in crisis.

Also, he says that, Barcelona has arrived a little late, in the sector of new technologies.

Barcelona must aspire to attract multinational headquarters to the 22@.

On a smaller scale, Barcelona should develop specialist clusters, such as design centres.

Despite the investment caution, all new buildings in the 22@ district have been rented or sold before construction has been completed.

The price of the rent, has stayed around 15 Euros m2/ month, with higher values in the buildings near Glories, where the office market has consolidated.

The 22@Barcelona project is the “engine” of economic development.

The 22@Barcelona project, approved by the Barcelona City Council in 2000, involves the transformation of 200 hectares of industrial land in the center of Barcelona into an innovative productive district, aimed at concentrating and developing knowledge intensive activities. As a project of urban refurbishment, it responds to the need of restoring the economic and social dynamism of the Poblenou Quarter, creating a diverse and balanced environment with production centers, social housing, facilities and green space aimed at improving both the quality of life and of the workplace.

The 35 kilometres of streets in the 22@ Barcelona district of activities are being comprehensively re-urbanised under an Integrated  Infrastructure Plan which, with a total investment of 162 million Euros, provides for the complete refurbishment of the public space and the construction of a highly competitive utility network, structured to meet the technological, town planning and environmental requirements of today.

The new services of the 22@ Barcelona district of activities include modern power supply grids, telecoms networks, centralised climate control, and pneumatic refuse collection systems and prioritise energy efficiency, noise pollution control and reduction and responsible natural resource management.

The new infrastructure networks have been designed with a mind to permitting the operators of urban services to compete freely, and to such ends are provided with fully accessible galleries, channels and conduits to facilitate the laying of new cable, so minimizing the need for any future operations.

As a project of economic revitalization, it offers a unique opportunity to turn the Poblenou District into an important scientific, technological and cultural platform, making Barcelona one of the most dynamic and innovative cities in the world.

As a project of social revitalization, it favors the networking of the different professionals working in the district and encourages and supports innovative projects that foster collaboration among companies, institutions and residents as well as social, educational and cultural organizations.

The fundamental vision and mission of the 22@ Barcelona project is to convert the old industrial areas of Poblenou into a new pole for business, scientific and technological activity, right in the very heart of the city, and thus help consolidate the position of Barcelona as one of the principal international platforms for innovation and the knowledge based economy.

Essential to this mission is to foster initiatives aimed at drawing in activity and creating new sectarian concentrations (clusters) which, with the involvement of the most significant public and private players, will permit transformation of the productive fabric of the 22@ Barcelona district to be structured and areas of excellence to be established.

To accelerate the process of transformation, and establish its personality and coherence, the 22@ Barcelona  corporation is promoting what have come to be called the 7 engines of the 22@ Barcelona district. Said activity magnet projects will permit the creation of a model of dynamic innovation, based on the “triple helix” concept, to potentiate the confluence of science, technology and enterprise so that the synergies

created between these three strategic players will hone the competitive edge of the productive system and enable Barcelona to adopt a leading position in certain areas of knowledge:

22@ Media                      Audiovisual sector

22@ ICT                          Information and Communications Technologies

22@ Biocorporation          Bioscience sector

22@ Campus                   New model for knowledge spaces

22@ Entrepreneurs          Magnet to international talent

22@ Technology              Creation and transfer of knowledge

22@ Social                      Social cohesion

The transformation led by the 22@Barcelona project enables the creation of up to 3.200.000m2 of new business GFS to stimulate production activities in the city centre, 4.000 social housing units and 114.000m2 of new green spaces, transforming the old industrial land into an area of the highest urban and environmental quality.

At the time of the approval of the 22@Barcelona plan in 2000, infrastructures of the industrial areas of Poblenou were found to be clearly poor. To amend this situation the project establishes a new Special Infrastructure Plan (PEI) to re-urbanize the 37km of streets in the 22@Barcelona and provide them with leading edge services and utilities.

The approval of the 22@ Barcelona plan, Poblenou has seen significant qualitative growth in its production structure, clearly evolving towards more knowledge intensive urban activities. The execution of the  22@ Barcelona project will generate between 100,000 and 130,000 new jobs, and the percentage of the city’s economic activity concentrated in Poblenou will increase from 4% to over 15%.

The 22@Barcelona district favors the competitive edge of its productive fabric through a series of projects, considered as the “engines” of the economic development of the territory, with the support and involvement of the main private and public agents and players.

–       On the one hand, it permits the creation of clusters around the fields of knowledge, in which Barcelona can aspire to become a world leader, through the concentration in the territory of firms, public organizations and reference science and technology centers in those sectors considered strategic: amongst others, the media, information and communication technologies, medical technologies (MedTech), design and energy.

–       On the other, it enhances the capacity for innovation of firms and the entrepreneurial culture of the productive fabric through initiatives that promote the concentration of R&D and technology transfer centers and attract the most innovative international projects.

–       It also fosters the establishment of new formal and informal networks to encourage the creation of joint corporate projects on both a local and international level, and to improve both social and entrepreneurial cohesion.

Barcelona’s 22@ district is both an urban regeneration project and a new model of city that seeks to respond to the challenges posed by the knowledge society by creating 4 fundamental clusters: MEDIA, ICT, ENERGY, BIOTECH.

In order to ensure the best possible fit for the diverse functional programmes within the urban environment, and to avoid any possible traumatic effects on the existing uses and functions, the 22@ Barcelona project does not, from the outset, specify detailed precise planning for each part of the territory, but rather allows for the final image of the transformation to be progressively defined, depending on the specific features of the individual project and its surroundings.

Since the project was approved, more than 1.100 firms, institutions, universities and research and innovation centers have taken the decision to locate in 22@Barcelona district. As an example, in September 2008, TCI Network opened the new headquarters in Imagina Building, which is located in 22@Barcelona Innovation Distric. These new incorporations have had a significant impact on the District’s production structure, turning it into one of the most dynamic poles for the generation and application of knowledge in Europe.

The international economic activity of the area of Barcelona gets a special boost from Fira trade fair, the Port , the Airport , the Free Trade Consortium, the Consortium of Barcelona Tourism Board and the new innovation technology districts. In this last aspect , and given the fact that innovation is the key to developing competitiveness, productivity and the internationalisation of companies, then we can see that the Information and Communications

Technologies sector (ICT) is one of the key sectors for Barcelona and Catalonia.

Barcelona and its metropolitan area play host to manufacturers of electronic equipment and the headquarters of large businesses that are one of the pillars of the development and exploitation of ICT in Spain. The city has become one of Spain’s benchmarks, with real examples that run from the 22@Barcelona district, the technology and innovation district from excellence, to extensive business networks of leading service companies, with deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit and a long tradition in the teaching of telecommunications and its business practice.

Regarding the availability of human resources, in the last few years Barcelona has increased resources in education in new technologies as well as in infrastructure for research.

The city has prestigious universities, centres of research that are highly prepared, laboratories for R&D, as well as intermediary institutions that facilitate the development of technology based projects that are motors of new initiatives in the digital industry through the transfer of knowledge.

More than 1,700 companies and 155 research stakeholders make this one of the top regions in terms of innovation in Europe in this sector. From the social, business, institutional and university point of view, Barcelona is positioning itself as southern Europe’s benchmark with respect to the Information and Communications Technologies sector. The distribution of ICT sub-sectors is similar to the situation in the rest of Spain, with the main weight falling on services for telecommunications, computer sciences and the manufacture of electronic and telecommunications equipment.

Barcelona in the electronics consumption sector; in Spain, represents 63% of the total production and it is the main European manufacturer. In the computer business, companies in Catalonia represent 29% of the total in Spain, and in terms of telecommunications, licenses issued in Catalonia represent a fourth of those issued in the whole of Spain.

Barcelona and its metropolitan area go to make up a compact area in the ICT sector, with special significance in activities related to the industry of digital content (cinema, video and graphic design) and software (development, consulting firms and other integration services), which between 1997 and 2002 managed to achieve a rate of growth above 80%. The importance of these two sectors in the overall ICT sector is also related to Barcelona’s progressive specialisation in the service industry. On the other hand, the city represents a very significant part of the employment in high technology sectors in Catalonia. It is worth noting that in 2002 Catalonia stood in the fifth position for the third consecutive year in the ranking of European regions with the highest percentages of population in high technology sectors, beating regions like Rhône-Alps, Dublin, Madrid or Berlin, and standing at a level similar to that of the Lombard region or West Midlands.

Barcelona is the ICT metropolis of the Mediterranean.

01 Barcelona, a digital city

02 Leader in ICT penetration

03 Concentration of ICT companies

04 Availability of innovation infrastructure and services

05 Centres of knowledge generation

06 Innovation and enterprise Culture

07 Support of public institutions in the promotion of ICT

08 Important ICT projects

09 Future potential

10 Culture of working in networks and adaptation to change

The Catalan rate of ICT penetration is one of Spain’s highest in terms of companies, internet users, and home ICT equipment, and the development of electronic administration.

It is becoming a digital city, which is more than ever concentrated with activities that are highly intense in knowledge, technology and research.

The economic sector based on creativity, innovation and knowledge, brings together activities in research, development, new technologies, media and audiovisuals, design, culture, biotechnology, the publishing world, etc.

These activities have more and more significance in Barcelona’s economy, they offer better paid jobs, and the most important thing, they represent the required condition for manufacturing companies of high technology to set up.

The most widespread use of internet by companies is for searching for information (90.4%) and electronic banking (79.3%) and half of connected companies use it to look for new suppliers.

If we consider the use of e-administration, Barcelona is one of the cities that has most moved forward in its implementation and at the moment it is working on services for mobiles. The city’s website is one of the most used compared to other cities in the world and this year forecasts show that for the first time the volume of procedures carried out via will over take those carried out in person. A fact that puts the city on a par with the best in the world.

Barcelona, together with 20 other cities, passed the European Charter of Citizen Rights in the Information and Knowledge Society, a pioneering move that demonstrates the will of the city to be a leader in the use of ICT.

The  22@ Barcelona project has been warmly received by the business community:

over eighty of the most outstanding companies in their respective sectors have either established, or are in the process of building, head offices in the 22@ district of activities and, in terms of new establishment alone, the productive activity of the district has increased by over 255,000 m2.

Among the users, there are some important Spanish companies such as:

Agbar, Gas Natural, Amper, and Retevision, and multinationals including T-Systems (Deutsche Telekom), General Electric, Liberty or la Citada Axa.

As examples of some of the most innovative and representative companies in Barcelona, we can draw attention to:

Abertis Telecom: leader in telecommunications infrastructures and services, it boasts the first network of sites for the broadcast and distribution of radio and TV signals, it offers mobile radio communications services for public networks for the security and

emergencies services.

EDS España: has set up its centre of Excellence Agility Alliance, a pioneering centre i n Europe for the development of innovative services for the finance sector in Sant Cugat.

Hewlett-Packard: its plant in Sant Cugat handles everything from marketing, engineering, to monitoring and the distance management of systems. Its R&D area has become the company’s most important outside the US.

Fujitsu: a company integrating solutions; everything from consulting, integration, implementation and outsourcing of infrastructures and computer applications, to a full range of products like servers, bank systems, mobility, storage and peripherals.

Getronics: this is the leading supplier in the world of ICT solutions and services, independent of all manufacturers.

IBM: the R&D developed in its Barcelona offices focuses mainly on software and solutions for innovation and transformation in the finance sector and boasts a competence centre specialised in health issues.

Indra: has established different centres of excellence like those dealing with security systems, communications systems and navigation by satellite or consulting from its headquarters in the 22@Barcelona district.

Microsoft: has set up in Catalonia its IFR Software Factory Microsoft Dynamics in its central offices in the innovation district.

Sony: the central offices of the production centres and the design of new Sony España products are in Barcelona.

Telefónica: it will set up its headquarters and Telefonica R&D division in the same place as its other group R&D activities in 22@Barcelona, with a close relationship between its different business lines.

T-Systems: is part of the Deutsche Telecom group, this was one of the pioneering companies to set up headquarters for the Iberian peninsula in 22@Barcelona, it has created an important cluster of ICT companies called “Clusters for Innovation”, with 32 members from the business, university and institutional world.

Yahoo! Research: it has selected Barcelona and 22@Barcelona as its European centre for the development of R&D activities into Internet search engines and other technological areas.

Knowledge is the motor of innovation, and Mediterranean cities with their compact historical centres where information exchanges proliferate, are particularly suited and attractive environments for the generation of knowledge and innovation. Both Barcelona and its metropolitan region can be qualified, a priori, as adequate infrastructures to channel co-operation between productive and educational systems.


Alstom Centre for Technology Research Development and Innovation in Urban, Interurban and Rail Transport.

Barcelona Media Innovation Centre.

ICT Technology Centre.

Innovation Centre for Energy Technologies.

Innovation Centre for Graphic Art Technologies.


The Catalan collaborative tradition has been promoted even more due to the use of technology in the organisation and the development of work.

There are many companies that work from their offices in Barcelona in collaboration with others all over the world in order to give the best services to their customers and at the same time count on linguistic and cultural proximity with respect to clients.

Creative people, with talent , multilingual and coming from diverse origins form the nucleus of knowledge and the experience of technology companies with offices in Barcelona.

Professional interest, the enthusiasm for technological advances, the ethics of responsibility, efficiency, high rates of productivity and the capacity of workers to adapt to a world in continuous evolution contribute to making these companies’ business grow.

22@Barcelona District, is an international reference point for the creation and development of new businesses;

Barcelona Activa

Specialized Incubators;



Landing Program

Accel Program

Access to financing.

Residential and Working Centre.


The  22@ Barcelona project has decisively opted for a mix of space dedicated to production and residential use, allowing people to live close to their work and favouring the development of local shops and trade, so guaranteeing the vitality of the area throughout the course of the day.

Poblenou has some 23,000 traditional homes. Over 4,600 of these homes were built in the industrial areas and encumbered under the 1953 County Plan which established the exclusive industrial use of productive land.

For the first time in the last 50 years the  22@ Barcelona project recognises the existence of these homes and incentivates their refurbishment. Moreover it facilitates the construction of between 3,500 and 4,000 new social homes, equivalent to 10% of the new potential roof space, of which at least 25% must be for rent.

To favour the typological and social diversity of Poblenou, the  22@ Barcelona project encourages the development of hotels and short-term rental apartments for corporate use, and permits the refurbishment of certain industrial buildings to create loft apartments, if their buildability is less than that established for productive use and if their preservation is seen to be of architectural, historical or artistic interest. Thus the 22@ Barcelona plan incentivates the preservation of the district’s industrial architectural heritage by allowing for the creation of non-conventional housing, so helping to broaden the range of housing available in the 22@ Barcelona district of activities.

Through the different projects for urban renewal it is anticipated that the total number of homes in Poblenou increases to 40,000. With such a proportion of residential use, close to 50% of the total built-up area, Poblenou will become a model of social and environmental balance.

Future Campus

The academic and university community in the area of Barcelona is one of the most numerous in Europe with more than 200,000 students and with prestigious international business schools (IESE, ESADE, EADA, etc); something which means there is a seedbed to cover the qualified job market and added value in the area. Specifically in the areas of ICT knowledge.

A new concept and model for knowledge space;

4 knowledge vectors based in the local economic and academic potential;

Energy Technologies,

Mobility Technologies,

Water Technologies,

Architecture, Urbanism and Construction.

Each vector will develop products and services in;




Business Activity.


Participation in programs for the creation of Bioscience-based companies.

Support infrastructure and services for the new busineses based in biotechnology.

Attraction of national and international companies related to biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.


Concentration of public and private technological centres from the ICT sector.

ICT Product exhibition and information dissemination centre directed to companies and citizens.

Local and International business sector;

Large companies (T-Systems, Auna, Indra, GTD).

Small and midsize companies (Interface Building)

Public Sector: Local Government (IMI), Regional Government (DURSI), Central Government (CMT).

Media Park

Communication Campus (24,000 m2);

Communication Campus,

Technological Transfer Centre.

Audiovisual Production Centre (36,000 m2);

Advanced studios and technical rooms, Offices.

Barcelona Media,

Innovation Centre,

Enterprise Incubator,

Temporary Residence.

Space allocated for expansion;

115,000m2 for enterprise 60,000 m2 for services.

22@ Barcelona’s stunning Architecture

EL Ensanche (The Enlargement of Barcelona)

January 6, 2010

Nicholas Socrates, 10. 10. 09

Urban Design; Art, City, Society.

EL Ensanche (The Enlargement of Barcelona)

Barcelona is the capital of Cataluña; the Spanish province, and is also the second largest city in Spain for its number of inhabitants. It is also the centre of an agricultural and industrial/manufacturing region.

Mechanization made Barcelona become the first industrial centre in Spain; among its main industries, textile factories, chemical products, regasification of natural gas, colourings, perfumes, automotives and machinery. In addition to all this Barcelona has one of the most important and active ports in Spain.

From the Tibidabo to Montjuic it is observed that the city is made up by three very characteristic nucleus: 1. the Ancient Town Centre which comprises the Gothic District/, reminiscence of the Medieval Barcelona; 2. the cluster towns, and 3. the Ensanche (meaning enlargement), that extends from the Rondas to the suburbs.

L’Eixample is the name given to the second district of Barcelona, which occupies the central part of the city, over a wide area of 7.46 km ² which was designed by Ildefonso Cerdá.

It is the most populated district in Barcelona and throughout Spain in absolute terms (262,485 inhabitants) and the second in relative terms (35,586 inhabitants / km ²).

In the Eixample district is where you can find some of the most famous streets and squares of Barcelona; Paseo de Gracia (Passeig de Gracia), La Rambla de Catalunya (Rambla de Catalunya), the Plaza Catalunya (Plaça de Catalunya ), Avenida Diagonal (Avinguda Diagonal), Calle Aragon (Carrer Arago), Gran Via de las Cortes Catalanes (Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes), Calle Balmes (Carrer Balmes), Ronda de Sant Antoni, Ronda Sant Pere, Passeig de Sant Joan, the Plaza de la Sagrada Familia (Plaça de la Sagrada Familia), Gaudí Square (Plaça Gaudí), and at its ends, the Plaza de las Glorias (Plaça de les Glories Catalanes) and Francesc Macia square (Plaça Francesc Macia).

Also, in the Eixample are numerous tourist attractions such as Temple and the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, L’Auditori, the Plaza de Toros Monumental House Punxes them as well as numerous cinemas, theaters, restaurants, hotels and other entertainment venues.


During the first half of the nineteenth century at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the Medieval town plan, was surrounded by walls. They were later collapsed by the installation of the new-born industries and an expanding population.

The city of Barcelona, like many other European cities, is no stranger to this situation, but in this case, the walls themselves, the political situation and the fact that all land outside the wall was considered a military zone, preventing what could be fitted in around the new industries due to the prohibition of building on that big flat space, which had an exclusive use for agricultural by the farmers (peasants) in Barcelona and nearby towns.

The expanding population and industries moved to areas that at the time were independent municipalities, districts of the city today, such as: Sants Sarrià, Gràcia, Sant Andreu and Sant Martí, the need to communicate with these populations gave rise to a number of tools that today are still part of the urban fabric. Among them is the clearly recognizable Paseo de Gracia communicating the Barcelona (Medieval) centre to the small town; Gracia, and during that time it was not only a means of communication, but a real meeting place, for walking and recreation, road side gardens were created and it was used for other recreational purposes by its inhabitants of Barcelona and by Gracia. It became a regular passenger transport with horse drawn carriages, the forerunner of the current bus lines.

The pressing need for expansion of the city between 1854 and 1856 resulted in the demolition of the walls, thereby leaving open the path leading to the current Barcelona.

In 1855 the City of Barcelona, considered a widening/ expansion project initially designed by Ildefonso Cerdá. The plan identifies a garden city with large open spaces, buildings, separated by wide streets and with no difference between the social classes; all the streets to be equal. This combination of circumstances caused the bourgeoisie of the time who were deeming his proposal as nonsense. There was a clear conflict of interest between the parties. The protests of the bourgeoisie and their political influence no doubtedly wanted to reverse and to reject the plan originally approved.

Having a real need to develop a project for the expansion of the city, the council, in 1859, proposed  a design competition of urban planning. Rovira i Trias, an architect, won the competition. The project is of course more in keeping with the pretensions of the bourgeoisie than Cerda’s plan: the streets were only 12 m wide, and the heights of the buildings were being considered with the possibility of exceeding the heights origanally proposed by Cerda. In Rovira i Trias scheme, there was a clear separation of social classes and buildings have a higher density.

With the adoption of Rovira i Trias draft in 1860, the central government in Madrid imposed few months later, by royal decree, inforcing the plan of Ildefonso Cerda, which began almost immediately, without the protests from the people of Barcelona. However, perhaps the result of intense pressure, Cerdá himself in 1863, tweaked his plan to increase the buildable area.

Although for decades there was resentment by the people of Barcelona and the final result that we know today of the Eixample in Barcelona has undergone many modifications to the originally proposed plan by Cerdá. No one would doubt today that the plan imposed, by decree, was better than the approved in the contest and the rest of those presented.

The Ideology of the Cerdá Plan
The plan around the city of Barcelona and its project for the improvement and expansion by Ildefonso Cerda and Suner (1859). Cerdá considered for their projects, the need for cities that are made for people and poses on all things including health issuses, not limiting this term to physical health, but going beyond this concept, putting forward proposals which take into account mental and social health, which would in turn tackle the nineteenth-century paradigm of laxity in Spain.

These issues raise the needs for buildings which are properly separated and have no greater height than the width of streets. This is justified by the need for the sunlight into the streets without hindrance from the buildings themselves, therefore the streets should be 20 m wide and the height of buildings should not exceed 16 m.

Another issue is the width of these buildings; they should not exceed 14 m and the houses would have to have views to the front and rear facades, which together with the previous question on the width of the streets, allow good ventilation and the presence of the sun in all homes, two issues which are absolutely critical to preserving the health of people.

The city raised by Cerdá, pays particular attention to the issue of recreation, especially with regard to the needs of children and the elderly, in this sense, The city blocks were created, they had to be square, and must be built in on only two of their sides, leaving the rest of the space available for neighborhood gardens and public space, thus the children do not have to travel for their games and the elderly for their walks, on the other hand, the existence of these spaces will decrease accidents by preventing children from playing in the pathways by circulating the carriages.

Within the idea of social health; self-designed sustainable neighborhoods were created, which frames a large park, a municipal market, and balanced distribution of all types of services.

Geometry of the Eixample
From Montjuïc to the river Besos and from the medieval city limits to the former neighboring towns, Cerdá designed a regular grid formation by the longitudinal axes of its streets, separated by a distance of 133.3 m, the regularity of the grid is unperturbed over the entire urban layout and justified, again, in terms of its equality, not only between social classes, but also in the comfort and ease of the transit of people and vehicles.

The scheme of sunlight for the city blocks. The routes run in directions parallel to the sea, and perpendicular each other, this makes the orientation of the vertices of the square coincide with the cardinal points, so that all sides have direct sunlight throughout the day, implying once again the importance that the designer, Cerdá gave to the solar phenomenon.

The streets generally have a width of 20 m, with 10 m allocated for the core road of vechile transit, and with 5 m on each side for the pavements, however, and due to varying needs, where needed; some wider roads built disturbing the regular grid of 133.3 m, adequately altering the dimensions of the blocks which are affected by the widening of the roads, for example the Gran Via de las Cortes Catalanes under which the Metro and train circulate, Aragon Street for many years had an outdoor railroad until it was finally buried, Urgell Street and others.

Special mention for the design of the Paseo de Gracia and Rambla de Catalunya, where with respect to the old path of Gracia in relation to the natural stream of spring water, hence the name Promenade,where there are only two consecutive wide roads where actually, attending the screening plan of 133.3 m, there should have been three streets, The Paseo de Gracia, traditionally respecting the old layout, is not exactly parallel to the rest of the streets which makes the city . Also, although are its blocks are square and are chamfers, they show irregularities of trapezoid shape them, also with irregular shaped preserved buildings.

There is a presence of some sort of special character that does not follow the grid layout, but diagonally across it, exists theAvenida Diagonal, Avenida Meridiana, calle Pedro IV, and others, which were drawn respecting the existence of old roads to neighboring towns.

Geometry of City Blocks
Dimensions of city blocks had standard dimensions; given by the above-mentioned distances between the center lines of streets and the very breadth of these pathways, so that by setting a standard width of the tracks at 20 m, the blocks are formed by quadrilaterals of 113.3 m, its vertices truncated form a chamfer of 15 m, giving an area of the block of 1.24 ha, contrary to popular belief that the city blocks have a precise area of 1 hectare.

Cerdà justified the corner of the vertices of city blocks from the point of view that this gives visibility for road traffic and a vision in, which he was absolutely correct.

Design and grouping of the city blocks. Within the space of each block, Cerdá conceived two basic ways to design the buildings, one had two parallel blocks located on opposite sides, leaving inside a large rectangular space for garden and the other had two blocks united in a “L” located on two adjacent sides of the block, leaving the rest also a great space for a garden square.

The sequence of blocks of the first type, resulted in a large garden running through the streets longitudinal and the grouping of 4 blocks. The second ´L shaped´ type, when properly prepared, formed a large square, with two perpendicular streets and together with its four gardens in one.

Evolution of the City Blocks
At this stage of the project, and given the difficulties he had in terms of opposition to it by the people of Barcelona, soon arguments and speculative activities, trying to get more space built, appeared. The first was that if the streets were 20 feet wide, he could increase the width of the buildings at the same distance. Then to have in the centre of the blocks; low buildings, designed in most cases for small workshops and cottage industries, which with it sadly caused the disappearance of most of the central gardens.  As a last resort to increase the built volume area the two sides of the blocks came together and buildings were constructed that united, completely closing, the cities blocks.

Evolution of the height of the buildings seemed here would end the speculative process, but a new argument was added to it. If the streets were 20 feet wide, would be sufficiant if the buildings have a height of 20 m instead of 16 m, since when the sun is at 45 degrees, illuminating all buildings, in its entirety, without any building overshadowing its neighbour. This argument coupled with the low roof construction resulted in winning two stories more high.

Finally, taking into account some of the above theory. If you build on the existing building, one floor, but to retreat to the interior facade of the building as much as the height of this floor, you get increased space constructed without affecting the shadow of the building to adjacent buildings when the sun is at 45 degrees, therefore the attic floor and the penthouse was built by removing the interior facade as much back, as the height of this floor.


January 6, 2010

Nicholas Socrates



The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, or MACBA) is situated on a previously monastic enclave near the historic Casa de la Caritat, in the Plaça dels Àngels, in El Raval, Ciutat Vella, in Barcelona.

It was designed by Richard Meier & Partners (1987-1995).

The building’s architectural style has strong references to Modernism.

Exposing some of the most extraordinary architecture seen in Barcelona.

Creatively Modernity is one of the most important components of our culture: it has made its self manifest in the fields of architecture, literature and music

MACBA came into being with the intention of bringing Catalan’s rich culture and heritage together.

Expressing the international vocation of artists in a building that Richard Myer has built around the Mediterranean light, which has had so much influence on Catalan art and artists.

Barcelona is a city of architecture, with a history strongly related to art.

It has a rich architectural heritage and also a good contemporary architecture.

Architecture is a mirror which reflects the changing direction of the city.

The first thing noticed about the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is the

contrast it makes to the surrounding city.

Approaching the museum from the tight streets that lead in from Las Ramblas, to the east, the sudden exposure of the vast grid of granite pavement that covers the new Plaça dels Àngels, with its brilliant southern orientation, comes as a shock. The vast white wall of the pristine museum and its array of forms, heightens this moment to a dramatic, dazzling spectacle.

It has a dazzling, monumental presence in the dense urban texture of Barcelona

24 years ago Barcelona regained municipal democracy. Before that the city had been subjected for many years to real estate speculation, governmental negligence and urban oversight. But then a new generation took charge of the municipal affairs, with the necessary and ambitious reconstruction of Barcelona.

In hoping to help and revitalize the neighbourhood a series of cultural facilities were provided.

In the past this too has worked in other European cities.

It was thought appropriate to involve some of the most prestigious architects of the time in this process of urban renewal.

MACBA was nick-named “the Pearl of the Raval”, because of its immaculate whiteness and its imposing presence.

The museum is situated in the centre of the Raval area. The Raval barrio was one of the poor parts of the old part of the city before the museum was built, but now the area is experiencing a renaissance – trendy shops, bars and cafes open all over

Barcelona’s Raval was historically the red-light zone and a slum of Old Barcelona.

Raval has a rich ethnic mix and the area to the south is often referred to as Barri Xino (Chinatown)

However, it’s quickly becoming the city’s new “in” area

In my opinion, this brilliant work by Richard Meier captures and embodies the richness of the artistic and cultural dialogue between past and present, between tradition and new creation. It also represents the need and fruitfulness of the collaboration between the public and the private sector – in a common search for a common good

MACBA possesses both the virtue and integrity of the 3 major defining characteristics of the process of urban renewal:

  1. Location – this site was chosen in a place/ neighbourhood in the downtown area of Barcelona, which has problems of aging and marginalization.
  2. Was the decision to choose high quality architecture
  3. Is creating a resource the city needed: consolidating its cultural life: projecting its self beyond its own limits

MACBA embodies great hope of producing a positive effect on the area.

This gleaming white building rises above the charmingly old-fashioned Barcelona neighbourhood of the Raval Quarter, in Old Barcelona. MACBA has been the catalyst for the urban regeneration this district of central Barcelona. It is massive, bright, white, pristine and inviting – it is intended to help  regenerate.

This large white building, with a longitudinal cuboid volume with a base measuring 120 x 35 m; combines straight lines and curves in a continuous dialogue between the interior spaces and the light outside.

The building has much of its southern elevation glazed, providing the visitor with views across the plaza, allowing natural light into the interior.

With its enormous glass windows and strongly geometric architecture, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is in itself a work of modern art. The entirely white interior and exterior, combined with a system of windows & skylights; flooding the building with natural light giving the impression of being a place thoroughly dedicated to the modern.

The museum opened to the public on 28 November 1995. All the art dates back from the late 20th century onward. There are three periods of modern art represented: the first one covers the forties to the sixties; the second spans the sixties and seventies; the third period is contemporary.

The collections focus on post-1945 Catalan and Spanish art, although some foreign art is also represented.

The permanent collections from nationally recognized artists like Paul Klee. The collection’s real strengths comes from its collection of Catalan artists like Antoni Tàpies, one of Barcelona’s most famous artists.

‘A Sudden Awakening’; one of the only pieces of art on permanent display is Antoni Tàpies’ deconstructed bed (1992–3), with its bedding flung across the wall in disarray. Its presence to the right of the main entrance underlines Tàpies’ importance as a key player in the world of Catalan modern art.

Miguel Barcelo’s famous painting “Season of Rain no. 2” hangs on the second floor, amidst work by some of Barcelona’s the finest contemporary modern.

The art collection revovles around the gallery from time to time.

The permanent collection comprises of over 2000 – mostly European – modern artworks, 10 per cent of which are on show at any one time. All major contemporary artistic trends are represented.

MACBA also displays an interesting diversity of temporary contemporary exhibitions.

The ‘raison d’etre’ of MACBA is this flexible area showing the best in contemporary art. Past exhibitions have included Zush and acclaimed painter

Dieter Roth.

The MACBA Collection has been put together from the collections stored in the museum by the three institutions that make up the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona Consortium: the Catalan Government, Barcelona Council and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona Foundation.

Consequently the collection, which includes pieces by Cézanne, Picasso, Pollock, Johns and Warhol, is one of the largest and most impressive of modern art anywhere in the world.

As well as holding exhibitions throughout the year, the museum also holds lectures, discussions and workshops on various themes. All of this is housed in this stunningly modern building

It includes La Central library, specialized in art books and publications.

Pleasant and unusual features of MACBA are the white leather sofas between the galleries, usually next to a shelf of relevant books and a set of headphones, these spaces provide the perfect resting spot to contemplate – and learn more about the art.

At ground level it houses the museums store and restaurant and above provides 2 gallery and 7 office levels.

Connected by a bridge, the initial space flows uninterrupted into the main structure, providing curved spaces which counter balance some of the rectangular spaces activated by the ramping system.

The curving walls of the office block and of the reception and circular galleries vary the north sides geometry when viewed whilst crossing the bridge.

This is Meier’s geometry – fully realised.

Three long halls, running the length of the museum, morph in form: from circular to rectangular. The underneath the walkways of the 2 upper halls have been paved, in sections, with glass blocks, to allow light through. It is also possible looking up, from underneath, to see the other visitors feet as they walk past.

These glass paved halls channel the visitors into the main gallery spaces.

These galleries are exposed to controlled natural light from 3 sides and on the top level: also from a huge skylight.

These rooms are the most flexible and account for the majority of its exhibition space. These spaces are fitted with movable interior walls/ partitions, which are scaled to the museums permanent walls.

The ground level of the museum responds to the labyrinthine nature of the existing paths across the site, these routes continue within the building.

Out side locals/ visitors can pass through and under the museum – moving from the plaza to garden, through the pedestrian passageway that parallels the main entrance.

The atrium which gives spectacular views of the new piazza.

As you go up the ramps, an ever-widening panorama of the surrounding medieval city is revealed. Space and light are omnipresent in the walkways between floors. Looking through the glass panels onto the Plaça dels Àngels gives the visiter a myriad images before even entering the gallery spaces.

The transparent ramp hall ramps orients the visitor, offering views onto the plaza and the city beyond – mediating ones mind between the difference and simulaeties of the old of the surrounding area, and the new of the building.

For visitors the ramps are a visual avenue into and out of the museum enhancing their experience of mobility within the building, whilst being able to view the movement and life outside on the Placa del Angels.

The surrounding square and architecture outside of the museum is among the most well-known and respected places for modern skateboarding. Together with the surrounding places in Barcelona, it is a common place for youth culture, due to its international popularity in the world of skateboarding, photography and cinema.

Entrance to MACBA from the Placa del Angels is along a long, low ramp that runs parallel to the façade (and internal ramps).

The ground level of the museum responds to the labyrinthine nature of the existing paths across the site, these routes continue within the building.

The sculptural elements of the main façade, show themselves to full effect in the Mediterranean sun, in the square

Opposite this main museum stands the medieval Convent ‘dels Àngels’ (the square’s namesake), which includes a chapel converted into a separate exhibition area known as Capella del MACBA, with regular video art performances. Entrance to this part of the museum is free.

Another contemporary art museum; Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), is adjacent to MACBA, and accessible both from the street and from the inner patio.

El Patio de les Donnes/CCCB; This courtyard off Carrer Montalegre forms part of the neighbouring CCCB. An ultra-modern prismatic screen provides a mirror reflecting the 18th-century patio – a magical juxtaposition of different architectural styles. Angled in such a way that the viewer can see the sea and surrounding area – reflected over the near-by roof-tops.

Unlike MACBA, exhibitions at the CCCB tend to be more theme based than artist specific. Home to both a festival of cinema shorts (September) and the Sònar techno festival (June), the CCCB always manages to be at the forefront of the latest cultural trend.

The CCCB serves as a crossroads of contemporary culture with cutting-edge art exhibits, lectures and film screenings.

Set against the splendid azure-blue Mediterranean sky, Richard Meier’s creation, of MACBA, for the clarity and abstraction of a sublime whiteness can be nowhere more appropriate than in Barcelona.

Meier’s architecture is based on a manifest, clear rationalism, with allusions to the masters of the Modern Movement and to Le Corbusier in particular, combining straight lines and curves in a continuous dialogue between the interior spaces and the light outside, which penetrates the building into the galleries and through large skylights. Combining elements of contemporary American architecture with the Mediterranean rationalist tradition.

Its interior paths of turns, straightaways and meanders collaborate within its structural frame, its penetrated screens, folded walls, clear and screened windows, light wells, circular stairway and arterial ramps – all producing a field of both free flowing and directed movement.

MACBA is highly charged architecture. It is the product of Richard Meier’s vision for moving visitors through its composition of hidden and then revealed forms and spaces exposed by natural light.

The geometric forms, physically static, perceptively shifted in the continuous play of the visitors activity and of light and shadow.

In this geometric architecture the windows break open the box and cylinder and visually lighten the weight of the concrete walls.

The flexibility of movement and light inside and the museums interlocking geometry – this interior is as much a part of the spectacle, it is a part of the city, as is the exterior.

This container for art itself becomes a work of art.

The viewer/ the walker recognises the simultaneity of art within art, by the continuous shift of focus between what is being displayed and the environment it is displayed in.

The origins of the urban framework for the Barcelona Museum for Contemporary Art lie in the urban design policy of Oriol Bohigas and his Catalan colleagues, which established a series of small-scale initiatives for the renewal of the decayed city fabric (as opposed to a larger scale masterplan), following the end of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.

Bohigas’s policy included the establishment of new small-scale piazzas and the revision and rehabilitation of significant buildings such as churches and convents within the fabric of the former monastic cloister and the labyrinthine of paseos and buildings of the Barri Gòtic.

In 1987 the museum commission was awarded to Richard Meier in a flamboyant gesture by the Mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragal.

The typology is Meier’s favourite – a contemporary art museum.

It presented him with the most complex and demanding urban fabric in which to place his inevitably startling and pristine project.

The Barcelona museum is Meier’s most monumental to date, within the European context. It is both assured and heroic.

Meier describes this response; ‘The museum creates a dialogue between the quarter’s historic urban fabric and the contemporary art within. The labyrinthine nature of the site’s existing paths and routes is reflected in the building’s organisation, most notably in the main entry, which is paralleled by a pedestrian passageway between the museum’s rear garden, and a newly created plaza in front of the museum. This paseo will join a pedestrian network running throughout the old city. The gentle fold of this circulation path emphasises the centrifugal movement of the cylindrical lobby and describes a fifth facade, connecting the geometries of the museum to an urban context characterised by skewed intersections and the domes of ancient churches.’

The site is not level, so the building sits upon a wedge like base, as if it is elevated onto a massive plinth and the structural diagram, in particular, reveals the supremacy of the planar geometries which both define the plan and the major systems of movement and space.

Meier has said that ‘The whole formal basis of the Modern Movement, fostered a new kind of volumetric exploration, one that still seems to hold many possibilities. I am still taken with the poetics of Modernism’

“It’s a museum, a cathedral of our time…Today a museum is more than a container for works of art…It’s a place where people come together, a social place, as well as a place for contemplation.”

Richard Meier explains that; ‘Traditionally resonant materials, such as granite paving and stucco, describe the public signposts of the plaza, sculpture garden and sculpture gallery, while gently reflective materials such as glass, wood flooring and aluminium panels are used to encapsulate areas characterised by motion and light.’

MACBA  is a composition of highly resolved forms and spaces acting in tightly controlled unison. Its beauty is its simplicity. A signature building and a landmark


Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

Introduction by, Dennis L. Dollens.

Essay by, Richard Meier.

After-word by, Frederico Correa.

ISBN: 1400681102