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Interview with Vicente Guallart, Chief Architect of Barcelona

In the following article, originally published in Polish in theDecember 2013 issue of A&B, Ewa Szymczyk interviews Vicente Guallart, the Chief Architect of Barcelona since 2011 as well as the founder of Guallart Architects and IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture in Catalunya). Szymczyk questions Guallart about his experience in urban design, asking: how can you measure a city's success?

Ewa Szymczyk: When measuring the contemporary city’s success we typically use economic measures. In this sense Barcelona ranks very high, being a top tourist destination and managing its budget in times of global crisis. But there are many other ways to measure its success. What in your opinion makes a city a good city? Isn’t it much more than economic prosperity?

Vincente Guallart: A good city is a place where the citizens live well. So the best measure for a good city is how the citizens live. The truth is that the city is a physical representation of a social agreement. If you think for instance about Phoenix in Arizona, maybe people live there the way they want and the way they like to live. Obviously there are also questions related to cost. I mean, questions related to environmental and economic costs. Therefore the cost of a city like Phoenix is very different from the cost of a city like Hong Kong, which is the densest city and probably the most efficient urban structure in the world. So the question is the economic efficiency and also the quality of life of the citizens. And the best way to know is to ask citizens how happy they are to live in a place like this. The truth is that if you are a citizen of Barcelona you are quite happy. We have been evaluating this over the past few years and the average rating is seven out of ten. So that is in general very good! The people are proud to live in a place like this.

Catalan Institute of Economists / Roldán + Berengué

© Jordi Surroca
© Jordi Surroca
  • Architects: Roldán + Berengué
  • Location: Plaza Gal·la Placídia 32 08006 Barcelona
  • Architect In Charge: José Miguel Roldán, Mercè Berengué
  • Area: 3080.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Jordi Surroca

© Jordi Surroca © Jordi Surroca © Jordi Surroca © Jordi Surroca

Roc Cube / nook architects

  • Architects: nook architects
  • Location: Barcelona, Spain
  • Furniture: Casa Jornet
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: nieve

© nieve © nieve © nieve © nieve

Apartment Refurbishment / Anna & Eugeni Bach

  • Architects: Anna & Eugeni Bach
  • Location: Floridablanca-Comte d'Urgell, 08011 Barcelona, Spain
  • Constructor: Oak 2000, S.L.
  • Collaborators: Albert Cabrer
  • Area: 112.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Eugeni Bach

© Eugeni Bach © Eugeni Bach © Eugeni Bach © Eugeni Bach

Inaugure Hospitality Group Headquarters / YLAB Arquitectos

  • Architects: YLAB Arquitectos
  • Location: Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona, Spain
  • Architect In Charge: Tobias Laarmann, Yolanda Yuste López
  • Builders: Ebanistería Agüera, 7Works General Contractor, Cristalería Bonanova, IEAISA
  • Area: 475.0 sqm
  • Photographs: Eugeni Pons

© Eugeni Pons © Eugeni Pons © Eugeni Pons © Eugeni Pons

Putget Dolors Aleu Center for the Elderly / Pinearq

  • Architects: Pinearq
  • Location: Barcelona, Spain
  • Architect In Charge: Albert de Pineda Alvarez
  • Area: 7500 sqm
  • Project Year: 2009
  • Photographs: FG+SG

© FG+SG © FG+SG © FG+SG © FG+SG

Vall d’Hebron Hospital / Estudi PSP Arquitectura

© Francisco Villaescusa © Francisco Villaescusa © Francisco Villaescusa © Francisco Villaescusa

Nursery In The Jardines De Malaga In Barcelona / Batlle i Roig Arquitectes

  • Architects: Batlle i Roig Arquitectes
  • Location: Jardins de Màlaga, 08029 Barcelona, Spain
  • Architect In Charge: Enric Batlle, Joan Roig architects
  • Design Team: Laura Quintana, Goretti Guillén, Arantxa Manrique, architects, Francesc Parera, draftsman
  • Area: 745.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Batlle I Roig Arquitectes

Courtesy of Batlle I Roig Arquitectes Courtesy of Batlle I Roig Arquitectes Courtesy of Batlle I Roig Arquitectes Courtesy of Batlle I Roig Arquitectes

Apartment Restoration in Barcelona / Vora arquitectura

  • Architects: Vora arquitectura
  • Location: Carrer Gran de Gràcia, Barcelona, Spain
  • Team: Pere Buil y Toni Riba
  • Project Area: 120.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2011
  • Photography: Adrià Goula

© Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula

Campus De La Comunicació Poblenou / RQP Arquitectura

  • Architects: RQP Arquitectura
  • Location: Carrer de Tànger, 130, UPF - Communication Campus - Poblenou, 08018 Barcelona, Spain
  • Architect In Charge: Josep Benedito Rovira, Ramon Valls Ortiz
  • Team: Antoni Vilanova, Eduard Simó
  • Architects Collaborators: Roger Molas Bernabé, Júlia Barata de Tovar Vilhena, Javier Sánchez – Montaña López, Martín Cerreda Álvarez
  • Technical Architect: Miquel Milian Barreda
  • Structures: Manuel Arguijo y Asociados, SL
  • Health And Safety: MBF Arquitectura.
  • Facilities: Instal•lacions Arquitectòniques,SL
  • Builder: SAPIC, CONSTRUCTORA SAN JOSE, SOGESA INSTALACIONES INTEGRALES, SA
  • Area: 15163.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2008
  • Photographs: Lluís Casals

© Lluís Casals © Lluís Casals © Lluís Casals © Lluís Casals

Bricktopia: contemporary crafts in EME3 Festival, Barcelona

"Bricktopia", by the architects of the international collective Map13, is the winning project in the "Build-it" Eme3 International Architecture Festival, held on June 27-30 in Barcelona. The pavilion can be visited throughout the summer at the square of the former spinning mill Fabra i Coats in the Sant Andreu district.

This intervention sets a new square which can house different activities, both under the pavilion and around it. Public spaces for bathrooms, sun, bar and stage for enjoying the summer 2013. It is a brick domed structure that employs the traditional construction system of a partitioned vault (or "Catalan vault") computed with new digital tools for the structural optimization of the geometry.

More information and images below.

© Manuel de Lozar + Paula López Barba © Manuel de Lozar + Paula López Barba © Manuel de Lozar + Paula López Barba © Manuel de Lozar + Paula López Barba

PAKTA Restaurant / El Equipo Creativo

  • Architects: El Equipo Creativo
  • Location: Carrer Lleida, 5, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
  • Architect In Charge: Oliver Franz Schmidt, Natali Canas del Pozo
  • Design Team: Lucas Echeveste Lacy, Cristina Huguet, Mireia Gallego
  • Area: 100.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Adrià Goula

© Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula

Toormix Workshop / vora arquitectura

  • Architects: vora arquitectura
  • Location: Carrer del Torrent de l'Olla, 15, 08012 Barcelona, Spain
  • Architects In Charge: Pere Buil, Toni Riba
  • Area: 20.0 m2
  • Year: 2011
  • Photographs: Adrià Goula

© Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula © Adrià Goula

AD Classics: La Sagrada Familia / Antoni Gaudi

Construction of the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família began in 1882, more than a century ago. The temple is still under construction, with completion expected in 2026. It is perhaps the best known structure of Catalan Modernisme, drawing over three million visitors annually. Architect Antoni Gaudi worked on the project until his death in 1926, in full anticipation he would not live to see it finished. 

© John Kennan © John Kennan © Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada  Família © Jose Gonzalvo

C. Sant Cugat House / RTA-Office

  • Architects: RTA-Office
  • Location: Barcelona, Spain

Courtesy RTA-Office Courtesy RTA-Office Courtesy RTA-Office Courtesy RTA-Office