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DESIGNING TERRITORIAL METABOLISM

978-3-86859-489-8 https://www.jovis.de/de/buecher/product/designing_territorial_metabolism.html

92 ON

92 ON TERRITORIAL METABOLISM fabric. After more than twenty years of transformation, we can recognize here some linked interventions both in the Raval area (from CCCB and Macba to Rambla del Raval-Filmothèque) and in the Gothic Quarter (Mercat de Santa Caterina and surroundings). In these paradigmatic sites, the new public facilities became social catalysts for a radical improvement of the formerly neglected districts. NEW METABOLISM AS A SPATIAL PARADIGM AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY At the turn of the century, two different urban projects clearly shifted the focus of the urban transformation to a new rhetoric: the Forum 2004 project and the 22@ District. Both urban transformations originated from overcoming infrastructural barriers, especially railway infrastructure, as part of the transformation undertaken during the Olympic period (1992), which revealed the possibility of discussing the urban relationship between the central core of Barcelona’s Eixample district and its eastern districts (Rowe, 2006; Masboungi, 2012). This part of the city was characterized by varying elements: the accumulation of industrial settlements in the Poblenou quarter, the “Catalan Manchester”; the presence of the functional 1960s massive housing districts (La Mina and southeast of Besòs); and, finally, an unusual accumulation of huge pieces of infrastructure—a garbage incineration plant, a wastewater treatment plant, and a power plant—that are necessary to sustain the city metabolism and were placed traditionally in peripheral sites at the limits of the city’s administrative domain. The “Reconquest of the East” would allow the urbanity of the central city and its benefits for the quality of life to be expanded across more than two hundred of Cerda’s blocks, which were historically disconnected from the surrounding city, thus stimulating new operations of a distinctive character. The strategy, already envisioned in the 1990s by the rearrangement of the Glories’ traffic junction and the opening of the Diagonal to the sea, was based on the Forum 2004 event and the 22@ renewal as two long-term city projects to extend the central city towards Poblenou’s eastern quarters. While the early 1990s urban projects focused on the urban structuring capacity, both the Forum project (1996–2004) and the 22@ Innovation district (since 1999) introduced new perspectives for reconsidering the role of urban metabolism and its civic expression, both as large-scale interventions and as urban fabric reinvention. URBAN METABOLISM AS CIVIC EXPRESSION: THE FORUM PROJECT Imagined by Major Pasqual Maragall after the Olympics in 1996 as a major cultural event to be hosted in one of the envisioned “areas of new centrality,” the operation of the Forum rearranged the end of the Diagonal Avenue, widening the scope of the city to the full extent of its administrative limits. At this geographic position, the social problems posed by the existing mass housing quarters came into contact with the accumulation of metabolic infrastructure related to mobility, the coastal ring road; water systems, a wastewater treatment plan; a power station and a waste incineration plant. The operation settled in a huge, socially neutral space oriented towards city mass events and a number of iconic buildings (exhibition and conference centers, hotels, etc.). From that moment on, the Forum area became a central reference point at the end of the Diagonal Avenue, adding new programs on a metropolitan scale: the new marina, the eastern UPC campus, tertiary buildings, an initially planned

93 Barcelona Metropolis Fig. 3: Aerial view of Forum area: huge metabolic artefacts merged with civic amenities, Area Metropolitana de Barcelona. maritime zoo, etc. Benefitting from its contiguity, the neighboring mass housing quarters became incorporated into city dynamics, thus renewing their basic or neglected urban conditions (Clos, 2008). Despite certain criticism of the project that understood it as a departure from the traditional Barcelona urbanism approach, it is worth focusing on the project’s relevance from our point of view. The former infrastructural conditions of this area were turned into an advantage by reversing the conventional planning approach of removing the huge artefacts and making the ecosystemic city infrastructure an expressive principle. The Diagonal Avenue was extended through a perforated platform on top of the Barcelona ring road as far as the sea, incorporating in its design the existing water treatment plant that serves around three million inhabitants. Nearby, the ecoparc incineration plant was refurbished together with the power plant as part of a new public landscape. A sculptural photovoltaic pergola is connected with to the huge thermal chimneys from the power plant of Sant Adrià del Besòs, adding a symbolic reference to Barcelona’s cityscape. In both cases, energy efficiency was at the base of these new projects, making the most of garbage incineration to provide heating and cooling services to the relatively closed 22@ district by building up a culture of collaboration in energy use between companies. At street level, the resulting public space became a composition of the esplanades’ continuous asphalt and the side parks’ green areas. Besides the specific design of each project, the resulting neutrality was achieved through the contiguity of several different pieces that configured a new common ground where the valuable corporate and iconic buildings abutted the former huge pieces of infrastructure. This innovative spatial configuration inverted the perception of the huge elements of the urban metabolism, which are often hidden from public perception, and gave them a collective sense, thus incorporating a social dimension into the public debate. These changes became new urban objects of the city, with incredible exposure due to the public space and its design. In sum, urban metabolism is understood at the Forum area not only as a city demand but also as a culturally valuable and expressive component inherent to the new urban project. This switch in perception significantly contributed to advancing