Thursday, 2 June 2011

Barcelona

 This May I took my 13 year old son, Tommy to Barcelona as a special trip.  He knew of it from skateboarding videos and magazines, while I was interested in it's public places and urban design.  I was able to lay down some ink while he skated.

From an urban design design perspective Barcelona is all about public open space. With it's mild Mediterranean climate and the ubiquitous 8 storey density, residents spend thier evennings in restaurants,  urban parks and plazas.   It's a city of notable modern architecture including some show-off,  gymnastic buildings - dramatic  cantalevers, random structure and other  dubious expentitures, but what resonates is the public spaces  in it's streets and  plazas  as defined by the 19 th century fabric buidings and famous Antonio Gaudi structures.

I didn't get to spend much time at the Gaudi buidings but did piece together that the Spanish 'modernista' movement correlates to the French  art nouveau period.  What's not to like about art nouveau, except to  moderinist purists it's mostly about style, or decoration, rather than structure or organization.  The exhibit in the attic of the Cassa Batllo apartment building has a great display on catenary arches and Gaudi's inspiration from natural structural  which I couldn't help but associate with Santiago Calatrava's bridges and buildings.

We stayed in an apartment near a major street called Para'llel.  There was a great little square near us which looked to have been composed around existing trees. In addition to the trees, there were individual chairs (fastened down), very modern curved lamps and solid granite block benches whcih were perfect for 'grinding'. There was another fairly new urban park not far away that had a rigourous grid of poplar trees.  In under the trees were a couple of industrial atifacts, hinting of the previous use, and some steel edged platforms.  This park was well used by skateboarders and we spent time there every day.  Here's the link to Tommy's vid  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuGTVB4xFF4












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