The School of Architecture’s Final Degree Projects are on display at the MUHBA under the title ‘R_Urban Hubs’

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For the fifth consecutive year, the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture has organised an exhibition of Final Degree Projects at the MUHBA Oliva Artés. During the event, there will be a round table discussion during which experts on the city will reflect on the productive model as a regional regenerator.

The School of Architecture’s Final Degree Projects are on display at the MUHBA under the title ‘R_Urban Hubs’

A butterfly farm, a productive city square, an intergenerational learning centre, the hall of residence and teaching area at the new CAR (High Performance Sports Centre), an agricultural school and a cultural market are just some of the unique projects being put forward by future architects taking part in the show: “R_Urban Hubs: Questioning the Limits of Barcelona in the 21st Century”

On Thursday 21 July at 7:00 pm, the MUHBA Oliva Artés in Barcelona saw the opening of the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture's exhibition of Final Degree Projects: “R-URBAN HUBS: Questioning the Limits of Barcelona in the 21st Century”. The show represents the School's fulfilment of its obligation as part of the collaboration agreement signed with the General Directorate of Urban Planning, part of the Government of Catalonia's Ministry of Territory and Sustainability, by which the educational institution commits to contributing to the regeneration of strategic areas of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. The event will include a round table discussion in which experts such as Eva Prats, architect; Enric Batlle, architect and director of the Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture at UPC BarcelonaTech; Joan Roca, director of the MUHBA and Víctor Ténez, head of the Inland Waterways Service of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, will reflect on the new scales of regional urban space.

Over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year, students completing their TFGs (Final Degree Project) at the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture worked in an area of exceptional ecological, economic and social value: within the Baix Llobregat Agricultural Park in the Delta. The objective was to guarantee the viability of agriculture in serving the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. It was an initiative stemming from a desire to provide a critical response to the endless proposals for speculative growth whereby the region was losing its identity and becoming a commodity in the hands of the global market.

The creators of the 30 projects are students in their final year of undergraduate study at the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture. They were divided into three workshop groups led by architects Rosa Rull, Miquel Lacasta, Alberto Estévez, Álvaro Cuéllar and Pere Vall. The projects on display respond to the hybrid nature (rural and urban) of the site and serve three main purposes: to reinforce the connective role of the Delta within the metropolitan ecological matrix by restoring waterways, preserving the gardens and pine woods; incorporating new uses compatible with agricultural activities; and categorising each border of the park based on its purpose, providing a formal coherence aimed at turning them into distinctive spaces with their own specific character: 1) seafront, residential and tourism use; 2) ponds and marshes, leisure and nature uses; 3) airport zone, logistics use; 4) C32 highway, industrial and logistics uses, 5) Sant Boi, residential and public facility uses.

The workshop group led by architect Rosa Rull worked in and around Castelldefels, Gavà and Viladecans, introducing new activities that add value (programmes that are involved in the transformation and commercialisation of the park's products and help to preserve their cultural heritage) and maintaining the characteristic features of the site (structured around agriculture and pine woods). The projects were undertaken in seven pre-existing clearings in the pine woods along a new public thoroughfare created from an old winding track, thereby generating seven urban foyers.

The architect Miquel Lacasta headed a workshop group whose aim, through involvement in areas around the airport complex and the C32 highway, was to achieve compatibility between urban consolidation at the fringes of the agricultural park and an urban plan that promotes natural systems; to encourage programmes that can help transform the current Agricultural Park into a high added value Food Hub; and to strengthen ties with the airport, while reducing its ecological impact.

Finally, the workshop group led by architect Alberto Estévez centred its efforts on Sant Boi. In this area, residential and public facility projects have been implemented under the assertion that "A house is not a box" and build upon today’s conceptual, procedural geometrically complex values.

During the ceremony held to open the exhibition, in addition to the round table discussion, UIC Barcelona School of Architecture's CEIM Chair in Industrialised Construction and the Environment presented an award recognising projects that propose the most innovative solutions in the area of sustainability. The School is a pioneer in introducing accessibility and sustainability as compulsory and cross-cutting subjects in its curriculum.

Thanks to the collaboration agreement with the Government of Catalonia, the course dedicated to Final Degree Projects at the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture has grown to become a laboratory of useful ideas for planning a more efficient, beautiful and just metropolitan city, as well as an example of applied research work thanks to the success of its interscalar urban architecture project (at a 1:5 scale of construction). It also serves to reaffirm the School of Architecture's willingness and commitment to put itself at the service of the city and its community, with a desire to take its students' projects beyond the realm of the classroom. This initiative received an award in the research category at this year's Spanish Architecture and Urbanism Biennial, which rewards initiatives that give exposure to architecture and clearly communicate its social aspect.

The project was organised in cooperation with the MUHBA, which, through Oliva Artés, implements its programme as a laboratory museum, drawing a relationship between historical perspective and proposals from academic institutions, public bodies and the general public concerning the contemporary metropolis.