Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

Living green in Barcelona (Part 2): From brownfield regeneration to home solar
Adrian Muller, 3 Aug 07

Brownfield Regeneration and Green Spaces

Barcelona’s urban regeneration for the Olympic Games set a trend for the city that continues to this day. In 2004 the city carried out the ambitious regeneration project Barcelona Forum. Developed on brownfield seafront land, the event was used as a catalyst for the next phase of the city’s regeneration. Consequently the theme was around promoting sustainable development and peace. The latest in the series of regeneration programs is the 22@ Innovation District that intends to transform the old Poblenou industrial neighborhood into a new technology and innovation district by means of promoting the establishment of advanced services and knowledge-intensive activities.

22%40.jpgLike most regeneration programs, 22@ fosters a mix of land use, turning the area into a place to both work and live. All areas are accompanied by green spaces that complement the many green areas, parks and gardens spread around Barcelona. Over 364.000 trees line its streets and on the edge of the city is Collserola, a park with 8.000 hectares of woodland and that happens to be one of the world’s largest natural areas located close to a major city.

Another highlight includes the ‘Let’s enhance Barcelona’ campaign that awarded subsidies for renovating the inside and outside facades of buildings, installing elevators and ramps, removing architectural barriers for people with reduced mobility and for improving systems for energy saving. Here again (view Part 1) publicity is used to cover part of the costs and helps the city preserve its architectural heritage.

In the words of the city’s Deputy Major:

Compared to the majority of cities, including Madrid, advertising canvasses could only be used, in Barcelona, on scaffolding for buildings in the process of being renovated. This advertising allows residents' communities to reduce the cost of renovation, which, for many projects, would otherwise have been too high to carry out.
Design Compliance and Open Source

open-software.jpgAll new buildings are obliged by law to include solar panels for hot water domestic production. Sport halls, hospitals, schools and any building that uses more than 2.000 liters of water per day also has to incorporate solar panels as part of its infrastructure. Despite the 1% increase these modifications suppose, all additional costs will be paid off within 5 years as a result of reduced energy demands. Just like underground waste containers, the municipally has opted for underground parking spaces to tackle traffic problems and reduce the visual impact on streets, substituting in some cases, cars with green spaces.

Last month the Municipality of Barcelona launched a series of online guides aimed at promoting the use of open software by means of teaching citizens how to use it. These can be freely download from the municipality’s site and include comprehensive information on different applications, such as Ubuntu, Gaim, Firefox, Gimp, Oppenoffice and GNU/Linux. With a philosophy that public funds can be saved, the government is using open software and actively promoting it among citizens.

Very few cities offer as many different examples of proactive green efforts from government and citizenry, new and experimental designs of parks and squares, alternative and connected means of transportation and effective methods for recreating public spaces as Barcelona does. It is truly on its way to becoming a bright green city.

Bookmark and Share


Comments

as a citizen of barcelona, i feel a urge to remind the author of this piece the amount of money Barcelona city government spends every year in ads, publicity and PR. i'm afraid the result can be seen also in the article above. which is basically a short sample of how the city government is promoting barcelona as an "up-to-date" city as far as sustainable growth is concerned.

i'm not going to discuss the very idea of 'sustainable growth' here (quite a unsustainable idea, really!), but i'd like WChanging to make some research into facts before accepting official triumphal information as the one published here.

so, just a few simple facts: i dont have the data from 1992 on (in 1992 the olympic games took place). but since 1997 prices for housing have doubled (100% growth), as a result of a deliberate lack of substantial investment in public housing, lack of control on the general real estate market and the continuous promotion of barcelona as a modern metropolis ready for international investments, especially in the real estate and in immaterial economy (turism and low cost services mainly).

another fact: the Forum 2004, an event dedicated to "peace", as you say, was sponsored by a bunch of big transnational firms very active in the high tech weapon sector. this is mere greenwashing to say the least.

apart from that, the Forum 2004 business generated a huge debt which was eventually paid by public money.

if you consider that the Forum 2004 did not include any path of real participation for the citizenship in its design and that the huge concrete private premises are now used only for big music festival promoted by big companies as PR a couple of times a year plus for private business conventions, well i cannot see where the progressive and "ecological" (at large) side of such a huge investment lays.

a little more in-depth investigation could be done about the 'enlightened' government of the city of barcelona, its strategies and its results. if that requires some field work that worldchanging is not able to afford, well at least please try to compare and contrast official information with some more sources.


Posted by: alt.bani on 4 Aug 07

I've lived in Barcelona for 7 years and I just have to agree with "alt.bani". The gap between the official information that you are giving out and what really happens in Barcelona is huge.

Just to give one of many examples of what is done in Barcelona: one of the last green spots in Barcelona is Montjuic where a new hotel has been built overlooking Poblesec. This was a green space a few years back. Even if not as "tidy" as wished it used to be a place with some green, not a hotel...

the Forum 2004 is a huge concrete complex that was gained over the sea. Anyone who ever visited this complex would take is as a joke to talk about an "ecofriendly" structure... Just think of the underwater ecosystems that were there before the forum construction.

If we talk about the overall Barcelona area the problem is even bigger. The 2 main valleys around Barcelona are crowded with factories and the lack of space makes it one of the most polluted place I ever saw.

Economic development has its cost and the ecological cost will be ever bigger considering this city economic growth.


Posted by: Laurent on 6 Aug 07

I've lived in Barcelona for 7 years and I just have to agree with "alt.bani". The gap between the official information that you are giving out and what really happens in Barcelona is huge.

Just to give one of many examples of what is done in Barcelona: one of the last green spots in Barcelona is Montjuic where a new hotel has been built overlooking Poblesec. This was a green space a few years back. Even if not as "tidy" as wished it used to be a place with some green, not a hotel...

the Forum 2004 is a huge concrete complex that was gained over the sea. Anyone who ever visited this complex would take is as a joke to talk about an "ecofriendly" structure... Just think of the underwater ecosystems that were there before the forum construction.

If we talk about the overall Barcelona area the problem is even bigger. The 2 main valleys around Barcelona are crowded with factories and the lack of space makes it one of the most polluted place I ever saw.

Economic development has its cost and the ecological cost will be ever bigger considering this city economic growth.


Posted by: Laurent on 6 Aug 07

Dear alt-bani,

The Barcelona Forum has many detractors and indeed it has many flaws. But before the Forum, "LA MINA”, where the Forum is located, was the most deprived-dangerous part of town. With zero or very few business activity within the area, it was totally forgotten. The Forum not only contributed in improving the communications, extending the length of Diagonal (Barcelona’s longest street that cuts across the city) but reactivated business activity (restaurants, bars, stores) and as a consequence improved security.

Where the Forum currently lies, there used to be old factories, falling apart buildings, etc. Situated in a beautiful part of town, thanks to its proximity to the see, the area was not being given a proper use. Regeneration projects are about reactivation and sustainability. It’s true that today concerts are held on summer, and I find it an amazing place to enjoy cultural events next to the see.

No one can’t deny the fact that we live in an interconnected economic ecosystem that changes when a variable is modified, but you attribute the incredibly high housing prices to the Forum, but this a problem that is not only happening in Barcelona. The purpose of this piece was to highlight the good things that the government is doing, not the bad ones. I live in Barcelona, so it’s only a matter of different points of view on different subjects.


Posted by: Adrian Muller on 7 Aug 07



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg