Jan '05 - Feb '07
Image Blog, Barcelona '04
thanks Aaron for the neat photos...
Chronological order, day 2 of 3 spent in Barcelona this time last year.
Barcelona has some of the best graffitti I've seen.
that's the wall to the right of the MACBA, a stark contrast to the bldg. In fact, the whole Ravel area is a stark contrast to the Meier museum.
actually its the MACBA building which is a stark contrast to the Raval neighborhood.. first was the Old City, then came Meier... though after 10 years of bringing tourists first and becoming later a skater's paradise the building has accomplished his ultimate end, which wasn't the contemporanean art exhibitions 'per se' (though it has excelled in that way during some periods of his first decade of existance too), but to relive and foster the urban dinamics of that particularly abandoned zone without causing (significant) gentrification...
the middle and low sections of the Raval neighborhood are a complete mess still nowadays though... it has become a filthy hole, much worse than what the Gothic Quarter used to be.. but there's a project running to do the same operation of the MACBA but in the central part of the Raval, with a masterplan by Oriol Bohigas (MBM Arquitectes): a reurbanization of a superblock in front of the Raval Rambla which will include the new Generalitat's Filmoteca (National Film Center) by Josep LluÃs Mateo, a luxury hotel (not sure who thought about putting a 5star hotel right next to the zone that has the highest rate of junkies/pimps/whores of the whole city), called Lamp Hotel -which will be a translucent glass cylinder, 38 m high, and looking something like a lighthouse-, new residential blocks, etc... how this will affect the neighborhood -and the Old City by extension- is, or should be, one of the crucial questions of the recent urbanism in BCN...
nice pics, by the way..
ps. 'barca' means 'small boat' in catalan.. most people misspell the shortname of the city, Barna, for BarÃ§a (or Barca), but the later its exclusively the soccer team's (FC Barcelona) shortname..
thanks for the spelling/language check (no sarcasm intended)...
Ya, of course the bldg is the contrasting element, that's what I meant...also, I appreciate your commentary on the museum and public space's affect on the area, I've never heard it put that way. When I visited, the exhibits were all excellent (during that semester I was studying in Vicenza, visiting numerous art galleries throughout Europe, and the MACBA exhibits were first-class, comparatively)...and as you said, the ext.space was filled with skateboarders (as well as graf-artists to the right, and plenty of beer drinking and hash-smoking on the "bench" created by the ground plane shift). The crowd that evening certainly didn't suggest any sort of gentrification...so, your comments are in line with my specific experience.
Most criticisms of it seem to focus on the starkness of the visual (including my own initial reaction, admittedly). Thanks for your native expertise / input...
the Filmoteca seems like a very nice project...hopefully the hotel works out as well, without gentrifying side effects. It appears that it's on the periphery of Raval, or at least bordering La Rambla??? (maybe that's the same thing, not sure)
Either way, Raval was by far my favorite neighborhood that i visited in the city. Have you ever eaten at Food Ball by Camper? oh man, that was tastey, and organic!
never eaten at the FoodBALL .. sounds nice -and interesting, I didn't know there was "a" Moneo in El Raval- .. I'll try it someday, though I rather have a good steak -whenever I can afford it-, I love blood .. :)
yes, the MACBA's whiteness is like if a contemporanean UFO had landed in the medieval core of Barcelona.. I remember that it was quite a shock at the time it was inaugurated, not for being a big piece of modern architecture inside the Old City -'cause just behind there's the Faculty of Communication by Freixes, all cladded in aluminium-, but for the shiny whiteness of the thing .. but when you hire Meier to design a museum you already know what color it will be...
the Filmoteca and hotel block is right in the middle of El Raval (1):
as you know the MACBA is at the northern part, close to the Eixample (2), at the down part there's the Royal Shipyards and the end of La Rambla ... both the upper and lower sections of the neighborhood are relatively clean and safe compared to the middle section... that's why the Filmoteca block (3) will be quite important..
I don't know if you went to the Rambla del Raval (4), which is like the little sister of the big famous Rambla, but far less touristy and, at night, quite dangerous even for locals sometimes.. but that's the social heart of the neighborhood and hence the importance of this project with the hotel (5) and the new residential blocks (6) -planned to bring in middle-class population and break the ghetto, with again the consequent possible gentrification effects-.. in the end, its just at the other side of the elitist Liceu Opera House (7) and the crowded and popular Boqueria market (8)... but also next to what is, as today, the worst hole, full of piss and shit, with people sleeping on the boardwalks, drunkards -mostly tourists, subsaharian immigrants or homeless, but also some locals- partying and fighting almost every day: the Sant AgustÃ square, a little plaza in front of a semi-ruinous -and unfinished- baroque church (9) -see example of a woman pissing on a baroque wall-... and the gardens of the romanesque Sant Pau del Camp monastery, which are filled with people sleeping and thrash everywhere -example 2-.. (10)
Of course all this come from my own personal experience, some locals would give you other opinions (I don't even live in Barcelona) .. but this last summer, even the general newspapers have talked a lot about the whole mess that the whole Raval middle section has become -like this guy, apparently a regular in that zone, that lives in the streets, bringing his sofa and things from one plaza to another-..
local neighbours -also from the Gothic Quarter, at the other side of La Rambla- are sick and tired .. let's hope the Filmoteca urban project helps to improve things, even if only with the aesthetics, It'd be a start..
great dialogue, aaron and medit. i remember wandering this neighborhood.
this is the kind of critical discussion of a place, and description of a sense-of-a-place that i hope we'll see more of on archinect. much more interesting than video chicks and bill bennett.
hope barcelona is having its own internal dialogue about what the raval is and should be since all of this new development is going on.
Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?