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View from Barcelona.

Barcelona continues its remarkably creative approach to architecture and planning, but some recent developments are becoming socially controversial.

The City of Barcelona continues to develop. Following the Olympic Games in 1992, the cultural festival Forum 2004 will attract major conferences, requiring convention centres, exhibition halls, hotels, and office buildings, in a series of developments that will regenerate several run-down regions by the waterfront. 'Barcelona will continue to open up and refurbish the waterfront', says Juan Carlos Monteil, senior planner at Infrastructures Llevant, an operation management company of the Barcelona municipality. 'The Olympic Village was developed ten years ago, and the Forum area further north is next. Financed by public, private and EU funds, it will be ready for the Forum 2004 cultural festival, with events taking place throughout the year. These developments along the transformed waterfront will be a catalyst for refurbishing the surrounding rundown residential districts.' The Forum area will develop in the northern Barcelona waterfront, where the main city road artery Via Diagonal will end and the river Besos emerge. Next to it lies the major sewage-treatment plant and garbage combustion plant for Barcelona's 2.5 million inhabitants.

The Forum 2004 area is on a new triangular site created at the intersection of the elongated Via Diagonal, and the partly covered Barcelona ringroad along the waterfront. Publicly financed, and designed by the architects Herzog & De Meuron--who refurbished London's Tate Modern--the building will have a conference capacity of 4000 in the lower part, with an exhibition hall of 5000 sq metres above. The hypotenuse of the triangle is 1 80m long, and the 25m high black stone roof will be covered with recycled cooling water from the refurbished sewage-plant next door, which will cascade over the semi-transparent parts of the facade. The landmark sewage-plant with its high chimneys will not be removed, but rather this old industrial quarter with its bulky structures will be integrated within a new urban landscape. Next to the sewage-plant will be beaches; perfectly regular 'playas' for bathing, marinas, inventive coastal parks hiding the infrastructure, water sports harbour, and a marine zoo park.

Originally built for Spanish migrants at the end of the '60s and '70s, the surrounding industrial and residential areas can look forward to a total refurbishment in the next phase of development. Poble Nou, bordering the Olympic Village area southward along the coast, will be transformed into an IT-working and living area. La Mina and La Catalana districts, bordering the Forum area, will be upgraded next to a new university campus.

Juan Carlos Monteil describes how the Catalan ecologist Ramon Folchs has influenced the new approach of how to deal with garbage and wastewater. In cities, people have to learn how to deal with their waste, addressing it instead of hiding it. As well as weaving sewage-plants and a garbage combustion plant into the urban matrix, water flushing, recycling and composting will have to become central to people's daily responsibility.

Next to and connecting to the Forum, another congress hall, the CGIB building, will evolve. Designed by Josep Lluis Mateo, financed both by the public and the private sector, this building will house 15 000 people. Around these main convention halls Forum and CCIB, several office buildings and hotels are rising to provide 2000 beds. The economic driving force is the fact that tourism connected to conventions and congresses in Barcelona accounts for a quarter of the overall tourist income, although the delegates make up only ten per cent of tourists annually. An exclusive shopping galleria, Diagonal Mar, has already been completed in this run-down and decrepit area of Barcelona, much to the annoyance of the architect David Mackay, one of the founders of local practice Martorell Bohigas Mackay Arquitectes: 'The developing of the Forum area is correct and in line with the city planning since the 1860s and the days of Ildefons Cerda who laid the famous urban Barcelona-grid.

'However, we do question the commercialization of the public areas and the integration of the Forum area with the surrounding living quarter districts. Already the price setting at Diagonal Mar shows the shops are not intending to stay longer than to get their investments back'.

The high cultural content of the Forum 2004 cultural festival means that there is a high percentage of public and EU money involved. The total budget is [euro]173 933 million, distributed over 3 and a half years. The Barcelona municipality together with local EU funds will cover 36.5 per cent, university and research funds 4.1 per cent, the central state and national EU funds 8.7 per cent, the Catalonian autonomy Generalitat 13.9 per cent and finally, 36.8 per cent or [euro]64 008 million from the private sector. The private sector is mainly investing in the Forum area with offices, hotels, housing and high-voltage underground works. The 2004 cultural programme will take place in the transformed Barcelona Forum area with an inauguration on 9 May 2004. It will include debates, exhibitions, La Plaza public sphere, an International Festival of the Arts, an educational programme, the virtual Forum, and different forms of cultural exchange, such as tourism.
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Title Annotation:new buildings planned next to the sewage-plant
Author:Fagerstrom, Christina
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Jun 1, 2003
Previous Article:Letters.
Next Article:July.

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