Cities all over the world are trying to take back public space from cars and give it back to people. Barcelona has thought up – and implemented – a new urban strategy, as radical as it is simple: the superblock, or in Catalan superilla. “Every city should try something like this”, says Sílvia Casorran, mobility expert and a resident of Poble Nou, the posterchild of Barcelona’s riposte to the car – and to the city’s excessive air pollution. Bordered by the sea and mountains, Barcelona is Europe’s third densest city, after Paris and Athens.
All over the world, cities are trying to take back public space from the car. Barcelona has invented the ‘superblock’, where through traffic is banned to make space for playgrounds and gardens. I went to see the superblock in the neighborhood Poble Nou. Where four lanes of through traffic used to drive, there are now gardens, benches and playgrounds. “All cities should try this”, says neighborhood resident Silvia Casorran.
Last week I was back in Barcelona to experience the election day. I went to Catalan voting stations and talked to the people there. Unfortunately, there was no clear majority so to form a government will be a difficult proces. Also, I celebrated Christmas in Barcelona with a lot of great decorations and a delicious and enormous fish in salt crust. And we worked hard on a video to celebrate 30 years of the John Adams Institute.
This week I kick off with future perspectives on how the bicycle can change the city at the first Bicycle Architecture Biennale in Amsterdam. Also, I went to the opening of the exhibition ‘The female perspective’ in the always spectacular Castrum Peregrini, the former house of the famous artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht. The last part of my week I spent in the always lovely Barcelona, where I saw a special photo exhibition of Susan Meiselas and got to see the just opened Casa Vincens, one of the first works of Barcelona’s beloved architect Gaudí.
I started this week in Barcelona, in the midst of the massive demonstrations of the Catelonia strike. Later this week, I was cohost of the charming Jord den Hollander at the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR) and I interviewed Julia Gruen, executive director of the Keith Haring foundation for the special restauration of two Keith Haring graffiti works: one at the Stedelijk, and one secret one at the Foodhallen. Furthermore I saw a touching performance of Maartje Duin about the dementia of her father and ate with very special cuttlery at an experimental gastronomic dinner at the Lloyd Hotel.