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Samskara, Made in India © 2014 Anshika Varma


ETSAB Barcelona

In order to kickstart the first of ETSAB’s new series of Visiting Studios, supported by Barcelona City Council, Ciutat Meridiana has been identified as an area of research focus. Concerned about it being Barcelona’s poorest neighbourhood, with complex conditions, the city council invites proposals through the Visiting Studio, to uplift the district and bring it on par with the rest of the city’s general standard of living.

Ciutat Meridiana, a neighbourhood built in the 60s in the Nou Barris district, is one of the worst examples of the pre-democratic speculative urbanism in response to the massive housing demand caused by the wave of worker immigration. Realised along the slopes around a valley in the virgin terrain of Collserola, large blocks of dwellings were simply planted abruptly on the site without regard to basic urban qualities and related services and facilities required to generate a healthy social life. Despite recent efforts to improve the quality of living in the area, Ciutat Meridiana remains a challenge that continues to be associated with unemployment, evictions, energy poverty, disconnection with the rest of the city and within, and is home to immigrants from different countries who remain disconnected with the rest of the city.

The visiting studio is structured around the idea of an inclusive approach, where students are free to choose the area of their research as well as their individual interventions, based on the diverse capacities, sensitivities, and interests within the student group. Instead of challenging students to produce varied responses to a same problem selected by the professors, the studio aims to build on the strengths and insight of each individual in the group to achieve a comprehensive collection of individual proposals that are complementary and simultaneously achieves a larger impact within a shorter time. The competitive instinct of peers is steered towards raising the standard of the collective, and directed towards learning team work, mutual respect and collaboration. Series of collective research sessions and discussions allow for negotiations among peers so that each individual finds her/his limits of responsibility while also feeling responsible for the collective proposal. As good architecture is a matter of synthesis and integrated thinking, the studio outcome as well as studio process provided opportunities to experience the negotiations involved on many levels, that lead to good design. Architecture can be practiced on so many levels and scales of intervention, according to the person’s interest and capacities, and the studio is structured around achieving excellence in the areas of natural strength, and by supporting the areas of weakness through team work. The studio prepares the student for architectural practice that is centred around strong individual visions, while developing capacities to work well in teams. Students are confronted with real people, real site and real materials and real scale to achieve proposals that are implementable. Affordability strategies through and public participation and engagement are a common aspect in most proposals.

With affordability of habitat, emerging world wide as a pressing issue, and with informality entering many aspects of urban living across the world, the proposals generated for Ciutat Meridiana contain strategies for urban development that can prove to be relevant to many other similarly challenged areas. Ciutat Meridiana can be seen as a laboratory, where the collection of innovative prototypes developed for various urban problems can be tested, and monitored, and the strategies can be applied in the rest of Barcelona and beyond.

Proposals range from territorial scale, to proposals for new mobility and public spaces, from retrofitting interventions to existing housing to spaces between the buildings, and strategies for self-sufficiency through production of energy, food and products.


Guest Professor Visiting Studio 2014-15 Fall/Winter
MADE IN CIUTAT MERIDIANA: Inclusive Strategies for Affordable Urban Transformations
Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona (ETSAB)

Barcelona, Spain


With Professor: Carles Crosas

Studio Assistant: María Sánchez

Guest Critics: Ignacio Paricio, Josep Ferrando, Josep Bohigas, Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores, Álvaro Clua, Cristina Jover, Judit Leclerc, Estel Ortega and Jorge Perea and Anna Ramos and Jordi Pagès

Exhibition jury members: Jordi Ros, Josep Parcerisa, Vicente Guallart, Jaume Barnada, Ricardo Bak Gordon, Eduardo Cadaval, Ricardo Flores, Eva Prats, Toni Ramon and Benedetta Tagliabue

Students: Mireia Aguirre, Ignasi Agustí, Maria Amat, Carlos Arroita, Rafel Capó, Albert Casas, Pau del Campo, Sebastià Febrer, Ángel García, Alberto García-Alzorriz, Maria Giménez, Anna Hernández, Raquel Les Heras, Jordi Llin, Jaume Mercader, Núria Moliner, Íñigo Peñalba, Beatriz Saladich, Joris Menno Van Oeveren and Guillem Ventosa

Acknowledgements: Vicente Guallart and Jaume Barnadas (Barcelona City Council), Fablab, l’Ateneu de Fabricació