¨It’s not only about making big icons, but it’s more about making good buildings everywhere¨
Vicente Guallart, Chief Architect, Barcelona City Council, addressed the audience at CWAB 2015.
Good evening. Thank you Construction World for the invitation. I would like to congratulate the architects and builders who have been felicitated, and say hello to the representatives and consulates. I have been walking around Mumbai and this is one of the most beautiful ceremonies I have seen.
Cities and countries need to learn from each other about the good things that we do and the bad things that we do. About the experience on retrofitting and rebuilding Barcelona, one of the examples I would like to explain is how new technologies had come into cities. In 1990s, we were developing infrastructure and attracting companies to come to Barcelona. Suddenly, we realised we should transform the economy into an urban one. We decided to follow the concept of bringing all these technologies into the centre of the city. So we built along this highway, you could see the blue sky. We started work in this area, so that companies could come here to create universities, hotels, towers, etc. The result is a successful development. We built a lot of infrastructure in the 1980s and 1990s in Barcelona. In the last three to four years, we developed a concept, which is at the centre of Barcelona, something like a park. For this, we demolished a highway.
An important thing is you should be sure the investment goes to the right place, because it´s not about how you invest in making infrastructure. We are transforming the city into a humanity scale city, one that has an approach, which is more people-oriented. From that point of view, we have been developing projects like these - we reintroduce nature, extend the side walls, etc. We have also been working with European companies like CISCO; we are developing the Smart City campus. But when we talk about smart cities, it´s not putting gadgets but changing the model of a city. We are working on how the future of cities will be. But in order to work for the future, you need to start today and work every day. What we have looked at while developing Barcelona is how can we develop new kinds of architecture.
If you remember what happened a 100 years ago - when steel, glass, etc, were new technologies, generating electricity and using it - it was a challenge of how to use them to make an art out of it. Today, we have a new challenge, that is, to use new materials, new technologies, new architecture, to make better cities. In Barcelona, we had a big solution of architecture. It´s not only about making big icons, but it´s more about making good buildings everywhere. We make markets, libraries, but we make these in smart buildings with high quality of architecture. So the architecture must be developed in every part of the city.
The last thing is how we transport water and treat it. In Barcelona, you will see beaches, waterfalls; we have water plants. We should use examples on how to transform the city and build water resources. We must work at it by using the underground infrastructures and work on maintaining beaches, harbours, making towers, etc - that´s how we try to improve the city. And, the result is big. The question is to have a commitment on how to transform the city. We buy architecture by transformation, by infrastructure. This is what we have been doing in the past decades.
This model can be incorporated in Mumbai. I am impressed by this country, it´s a great country and I would like to see how Barcelona and Mumbai and the Barcelona City Council can work together.