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Building Barcelona: A Second Renaixença By Peter G Rowe. Actar, 2006. 208pp. £15

Barcelona continues to be cited as a model for 'urban renaissance' at the expense of a more nuanced view. Writing as an informed outsider, urbanist/academic Peter Rowe recounts the city's first renaixença, from the 1830s to the early 20th century, and then focuses on the last 25 years - the source of all the acclaim. Though Rowe too is upbeat, he doesn't shirk from criticism, whether of the famous public spaces programme (100 projects completed between 1981 and 1987, but not always maintained) or of urban design in the Olympics building boom.

Of the 'Barcelona model' of urbanisation, he concludes: 'just how applicable it might be elsewhere is a matter of conjecture.' It's irritating that the book's (grey) images are collated in separate sections and not referenced in the text.

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