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WAF 2011: Barcelona gears up for the next stage of development

Barcelona’s new chief architect, Vicente Guallart, outlined the extraordinary ambitions and energy that the city has for its future development at a World Architecture seminar

‘We want to be many slow cities inside a smart city,’ he said, explaining that this meant that there should be a slow, civilised and sustainable way of life, coupled with the very fastest of virtual communication.

The city, he said, is finally reaching the end of the Cerda masterplan of 1859, as almost all the areas that he envisaged are now developed. ‘We are at the end of a big cycle,’ he said. The next stage, he believes, should be to ‘add a metabolism - to become productive again’. This means, he said, to reengage with nature, and even start some food production, as well as becoming self sufficient in renewable energy. Within 50 years, he believes, the city should be generating all the energy it needs.

There are a number of steps to achieve these ambitions. They include:

* Making green links with the rural hinterland

* Investing in rental housing, and encouraging developers to take a long-term interest rather than looking for a quick buck

* Generating energy with a new solar typology, and integrating this with the management of buildings and teh use of electric cars

* Bringing back a culture of making things by designers, including architects, through the use of 3d digital printing

* A new way of dealing with the old town, to prevent it being overwhelmed by tourists

* Regeneration of unplanned satellite areas of the city

* Major projects, such as a response to New York’s high line with a new linear park above the high speed railway

* Development and redevelopment of key areas, including turning a former port area into a mixed-use part of the city, and creation of a gigantic Chinese-funded logistics area.

At a time when many cities seem more concerned with belt-tightening than development, it was encouraging and exciting to see Barcelona facing the future with such energy and enthusiasm, building on its history to create a transformed future.

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