The twenty-fourth Vertical Workshop closes with four participatory urban culture proposals for Barcelona
The students devised temporary installations for the streets that make up Barcelona City Council’s project ‘Obrim Carrers’
On 8 September, the closing session for UIC Barcelona School of Architecture’s twenty-fourth Vertical Workshop, titled “Put it on wheels! Mobilising the metropolitan cultural convoy”, was held online for the first time. Over the course of the eight-day programme, 140 students between their second and fifth year of the Bachelor's Degree in Architecture worked in teams to devise four proposals for potential new participatory urban culture concepts in Barcelona. The groups took inspiration from the streets that form part of Barcelona City Council’s programme ‘Obrim Carrers’ (We’re opening the streets): Carrer d'Aragó, Via Laietana, Gran de Gràcia and Creu Coberta-Sants.
“Culture is suffering more than ever at the moment and we are starting to re-evaluate how we use and design public spaces. The aim here has been to redesign the streets with pedestrians in mind, creating a space where culture is adopted as a vehicle for coexistence and interaction. We are compelled to think twice not only about the role culture plays on our streets, but also about cross-cutting urban aspects and concepts such as citizenship, the right to the streets, the right to nature, mobility or ecology", highlighted the workshop’s directors, Raquel Colacios and Alejandro Haiek.
The first group of students, led by Nashira Covarrubia and Eva Damià, based their proposal on Carrer Gran de Gràcia with the aim of making this city street more democratic, enriching it with new functions and facilitating cultural productions of all kinds. With this goal in mind, the students designed a flexible installation consisting in a truck made from several foldable modules that can also be towed by bike, to extend the performance activities along the length of the street. These modules have different functions; they are portable and are managed completely by the community itself.
The Green Rolling Carpet
The proposal from the second group, led by Luis Pimentel and Maria Barcina, was modelled on Carrer d'Aragó and sought to reverse the negative effects of this great urban artery, such as significant noise pollution or the lack of green spaces. Their proposal was based around the idea of winning back the space with four trucks of varying sizes that hold equipment for cultural and social community activities. Each vehicle would also incorporate some greenery, with a view to introducing nature back into calle Aragón in the form of an urban forest.
The third group, led by Irina Urriola and Octavio Pérez, designed their proposal with Via Laietana in mind, another major thoroughfare that connects Barcelona’s city centre with the seafront. The project is based on the six squares that flank the road and proposes a diverse array of social and cultural activities, made possible thanks to a mobile installation consisting of a large mesh made from recycled fishing nets and suspended from cranes. The installation acts as an artistic artefact and gives people the power to re-conquer this urban route.
The project proposed by the fourth group, who were led by Valentina Mion and Nacho Vallhonrat, is based on Carrer de la Creu Coberta in Barcelona’s Sants neighbourhood. Building on the principles of environmental sustainability and the ‘15-minute city’ idea, the proposal envisages the creation of a "green caravan" made up of several mobile containers that seek to re-introduce nature into this highway by offering its residents space for planting and cultivation. The project includes an activities plan based on environmental criteria and the principle of citizen participation.
The four proposals were assessed by the lecturers guiding the workshop and by Fira de Tàrrega programmer, Maria Capell, who praised the high standard and quality of the projects submitted. “Over the course of the last few months, as Barcelona has seen tourism diminish, we have seen how people have started to take back public space and enjoy being in the streets, something that has been missing for so long. It is fascinating to see how each proposal draws on this idea of empowering citizens to reconquer their urban jungle”, she remarked. “The proposals have evolved from an in-depth analysis of the city, to which the students have introduced simple, cross-cutting concepts that help promote a healthy and more human city. They have designed strategies with many levels. Inspired by the need to formulate new urban culture models, they have managed to introduce concepts related to citizen empowerment, social interaction or new ecology", pointed out Raquel Colacios and Alejandro Haiek.