“The last street”, documentary on the effects of mass tourism in Barcelona

In Barcelona, the remains of the old city enters the Mediterranean like a wedge between the urban beach and the new harbour, resisting in its own way the attacks of real estate development. The sailor-spirited streets of La Barceloneta lie beneath the shadow cast by apartments where you can still see clothes hanging in the balconies and recognize new neighbours because they “don’t know how to hang it properly”. The defending neighbours of La Barceloneta tell their life stories and prepare the annual festivity in their street, which depends less of the City’s bureaucracy than of the good will of those who live there. These retired women can still make you smile, plus they know every nook of the neighbourhood. This film makes the difficult seem easy: capturing the essence of something that is vanishing, between the memories of sailor legends and the premonition of an advancing modernity.

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Falowiec: landscape of communism in Gdansk, Poland.

Nueva imagen (2)

I have recently been walking around “Falowiec” (form the Polish word fala, wave; plural: falowce) in Gdansk, the longest building in Europe. It is a block of flats characterised by its length and wavy shape. This type of building was built in Poland in the late 1960s and 1970s in the Polish city of Gdańsk, where there are eight buildings of this type. Some buildings of this kind are also present in Italy.

The best-known falowiec in Gdańsk, located at the Obrońców Wybrzeża street, has:

11 stories (10 plus the ground floor)
nearly 6,000 occupants
4 segments (4 staircases in each segment of 110 apartments).
a length of around 850 m (2788 ft)

Soviet mass housing is a contradictory but unique phenomenon. It is usually blamed for creating the most monotonous built environment in the history of mankind, thus constituting a symbol of individual suppression and dejection. The construction programme launched in the post-Stalinist era was the largest undertaken in modern architectural history worldwide. At the same time, Soviet mass housing fulfilled a colossal social role, providing tens of millions of families with their own apartments. It shaped the culture and everyday life of nearly all Soviet citizens. Yet, due to the very scale of construction, it managed to evolve into a complex world denoting an abundance of myths and secrets, achievements and failures. Soviet mass housing is indisputably intriguing, but nevertheless it is still neglected as a theme of research. Therefore, the time is ripe for a critical appraisal of this ambitious project. The authors aim to identify the most significant mass housing series designed and engineered from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok.

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“Paterson” A film that chronicles beautifully banal life in a post-industrial district

What to do with an old power plant in the middle of the city? The case of Łódź, in Poland

Thoughts about how urban design impact our lifes

Just read this article and found so interesting ideas on how urban design impact society and what can be done to avoid increasing inequality. Here I just noted some additional thoughts. I am also thinking of how does it work in a wider scale, for instance, how regional infraestructures reinforce certain inequalities. The same with regard to environmental restoration projects.

Bearing how people socially construct space in the urban planning process:

“There is a need to redesign the designers, and to give them the tools and competencies to work within social constructs and spatial contexts that they are meant to serve. Designers spend much of their academic and professional training to build the spatial, technical, communication, and critical-thinking skills that are needed to do the difficult work of transforming spaces and places. They use their skills, often with good intentions and ‘best practices,’ toward results that may not align with what is needed or wanted in a given context.

Public space is something more than a good design, it is also about having social meaning

“Public spaces alone will not create the vitality and empathy we seek in and from our cities. Universally designing for everyone can create homogenized, soulless places that have all people in mind but have meaning or use for no one.”

Not only interdisciplinarity is needed in urban design but also public and socially diverse participation

“Projects in the public realm need to be informed not only from more disciplines but from more kinds of people. Artists, misfits, outsiders, elders, immigrants, people of color, and women have been leading community development efforts in unconventional ways, partly because they have not been invited to the table and also because their varied lived experiences offers something more or counter to the standard advanced for our civic commons, parks, plazas, and other urban public assets.

“The space between who is considered an expert and who is typically on the margins of conversations about public space needs to be collapsed. If that happens I think cities will feel, function, and be designed with multiple points of view, engendering spaces that promote social mixing and most importantly social equity.

 

Places to reinforce social capital, to make people come together to have open conversations

“For example, there are so many more private pools than there are public pools. There’s also the inability for us to maintain branch libraries, which are really community centers for a lot of neighborhoods. We need places that people come together to have open conversation about current issues. Immigrant communities are interesting to look at because this welcome-unwelcome feeling is very inherent to their experience in their city. It has nothing to do with design, necessarily, but design can reinforce that invitation.”

Megaprojects and community conflicts in A Corunha, Galicia, Spain

This article, in Galician language, addresses the history of rural neiborghood in the bounds of the city of A Corunha and how it has suffered from different megaprojects that threaten its mere existence. The article refrences a arquitect project led by Ergosfera, a group of architets and how they claim a greater attention to heritage beyond the “academic” concept in order to incorporate those things that really makes the difference in a given city.

“O grupo de arquitectos e arquitectas Ergosfera levaron a cabo unha investigación –Cousa de Elviña– sobre as orixes, o presente e o futuro do conflito entre os habitantes de Elviña e os desenvolvementos urbanísticos da cidade, tomando como base estas dúas vivendas e a súa contorna (A Pereiroa). O proxecto foi realizado no marco do programa Expontáneas da Concellaría de Cultura da Coruña, e é tamén unha exposición que xa se puido ver a semana pasada na sede do Concello, que está actualmente no local da Concellaría de Rexeneración Urbana e Dereito á Vivenda (no barrio de Montealto), e que entre o 18 e o 22 de xullo estará na sede coruñesa do Ministerio de Fomento.

A intervención urbana formulada ten quizais uns obxectivos pouco relevantes na súa materialización formal, pero moi ambiciosos en canto á fenda que tenta abrir: a introdución de dúbidas no pensamento institucional sobre o valor e a lexitimidade destas cousas urbanas sen importancia aparente”, destacan dende o colectivo…En toda cidade hai moitísimos núcleos de orixe preindustrial, e todos teñen enriba a ameaza do urbanismo. Hai que comezar a entender que o patrimonio non é só aquilo que os académicos digan, senón que o patrimonio é todo aquilo que implica unha diferenza na cidade. Nós non valoramos estas casas como un recordo do que foi o mundo rural, antigo, senón que as destacamos como un valor de futuro. Ti imaxina dentro de 50 anos, nunha Alfonso Molina convertida en avenida, a diferenza que establecerían estas casas en relación cos edificios modernos que as rodean. Debemos cambiar o concepto de patrimonio, para non defender só as cousas polo que foron, senón tamén polo que son”, subliña”

 

 

“Social life” a research centre and innovation about communities

We believe that creating places that support local people, which are socially sustainable, matters as much as creating places that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

Our work is about understanding how peoples’ day-to-day experience of local places is shaped by the built environment – housing, public spaces, parks and local high streets – and how change, through regeneration, new development or small improvements to public spaces, affects the social fabric, opportunities and wellbeing of local areas.

We bring these insights to the process of planning, designing and managing places by working with communities, built environment professionals, public agencies and governments, in the UK and internationally.

Social Life is a social enterprise, created by the Young Foundation in 2012, to become a specialist centre of research and innovation about the social life of communities. Social Life builds on the ground-breaking work of two leading social thinkers: Michael Young, sociologist and social entrepreneur who established the Institute of Community Studiesin 1954 to bring social research to post-war urban planning; andProfessor Sir Peter Hall, one of the world’s most respected and widely-published thinkers about urban planning and former Senior Research Fellow at the Young Foundation.