Open House Lecture: “Knowledge Transfer in the Design Professions: Learning from Barcelona

Open House Lecture: “Knowledge Transfer in the Design Professions: Learning from Barcelona


Good afternoon. I want to welcome everybody to
Piper Auditorium of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. My name’s Diane Davis, and I’m
the chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design. And I’m really excited
to be moderating this event this afternoon. This is our
open-house-day panel, titled “Knowledge Transfer
in the Design Professions– Learning from Barcelona.” And, as you’ve probably
seen in the lobby, in the wonderful
spaces of Gund Hall, we are showcasing an amazing,
extraordinary exhibition of work, curated
by my colleague, Professor Joan Busquets, a
world-recognized urban designer whose many
accomplishments include serving as the head
of urban planning for the Barcelona city council
during what many would consider to be some of its most formative
years, from 1983 to 1989, as well as during the
preparations for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992,
which culminated in a number of key
projects for the city. As some of you
might also be aware, both within the design
professions represented here at the GSD and more generally
around the world Barcelona– he’s also an actor
here, today– is often held up as a model of urbanism
to which many cities aspire. Thus, we’re using a
focus on Barcelona and Joan’s exhibition
and his body of work to ask questions about how
ideas, prototypes, or paradigms in the design
professions both emerge and are disseminated globally. Although we’ll hear more from
Juan and our other two guests panelists tonight, Chris
Reed and Carles Muro, about the nature of urbanism and
the range of design, planning, landscape, and
architectural interventions that have made Barcelona so
lauded in the design fields, let me quickly say that,
among the city’s most notable features, at
least from my perspective, are its compactness,
animated street life, and pedestrian
friendliness; the preservation and development
of luxurious and vibrant open spaces, public spaces, green
spaces, and other forms; third, a strong commitment
to the importance of regulatory
interventions, via zoning and other forms of restrictions,
constraints, and permissions– a feature that not
only highlights the central role played by
urban designers and planners in laying out the physical and
social contours of Barcelona’s urban fabric but that also
suggests that local governance capacities and
political dynamics are part of the story
of the city’s successes. And the latter might also be
related to the growing role that citizen mobilization
has, and is now playing, in either protecting
or challenging some of the elements of
the “Barcelona model,” thus highlighting the fact
that vibrant civil-society involvement must also be
considered an important part of the success of Barcelona. I think we should
not also forget that what has
transpired in Barcelona builds on a rich history of
architectural engineering and urban planning and
design thinking and practice. From Cerda’s master plan, built
around the grid structure, to Gaudi’s iconic work in
both building conception and landscape design–
perhaps he’s less known, but he also has been focused
on parks and green spaces, as well as buildings–
and the introduction of a subway in 1924. So a look to historic Barcelona
suggests a longstanding legacy of commitment to proactive
and intellectually vibrant urbanism. And, from my own personal
view, as somebody that’s really interested
in the history of cities and how they become
to be and maintain their exceptional
urbanism, we need to think about the history. Often, the 1992 Olympics Games
and the urban development projects in enabled– which
include the waterfront development, upgrading public
spaces, some things that are out in the
lobby– are considered to be the hallmark of the model. But I don’t want us to forget
the impact that the city’s spatial, social, and
economic history has on its current status. I think one more thing I
want to say about Barcelona is we should recognize that the
wild popularity of the model and the city’s
great successes also have had a downside,
at least in the sense that so many people are drawn
to visiting the city that it has started to create
somewhat of a backlash from its own residents. Paradoxically,
Barcelona’s global renown as a place of
unparalleled urban delight has brought far too
many tourists, raised property values– downtown,
particularly– and transform traditional neighborhoods into
sites of restaurants, bars, Airbnbs, et cetera, all
of which take needed rental housing off the market. Also, there are concerns
about the divisions between the kind of revived
historic city and the suburbs, having to do with insufficient
advances in transportation investments and the overwhelming
focus on the historic parts of the city. And, in fact, in the
election of Ada Colau, the past mayor, who came
from a citizens’ movement, focused around a lot
of those issues– the transformations
in Barcelona that were beginning to
create problems for citizens themselves. But anyway, our purpose here is
not merely focus on the nature and the current status of
conditions in Barcelona, although we will
start with that focus when I turn the podium over
to Joan in a few minutes. This afternoon, we also have
a larger epistemological aim, which is to reflect on the
notion of transferability of ideas. In the fields of
public policy, there’s a large debate around what
is called “policy transfer” and the implications of taking
policies drawn from one context and imposing them on another. So we want to start a
similar debate, a reflection, within our own design
professions, here at the GSD, and ask questions about
the extent to which models, techniques, or practices
in urbanism and design are being transferred
or globally adopted, how and why, and with
what implications for the building of cities. The question is,
can practices deemed to be successful in one city
be effectively transferred to another? Or are they contingent on a
city’s own history, in ways that make them hard to
reproduce elsewhere? And, just as
important today, and I think it’s reflected in the
composition of the panel, we want to think about
learning or knowledge transfer across subdisciplinary
boundaries in the design fields. In other words, the transfer
between architecture, landscape architecture, urban
planning, and urban design. Can compelling ideas
developed in one of the design disciplines
transform practices in the other? How does this happen? And what are the implications
for the core knowledge in each of these fields? I think this latter question is
particularly dear to our hearts at the GSD, because our
programs are continually expanding, overlapping,
and exploring, in new and creative
ways, trying to keep up with the changes in
technology, environment, the speed of urbanization, and
the globalization of networks among design professionals. So we also see this panel
today as an occasion for you to hear from faculty
representing all three of our main departments–
architecture, landscape architecture, and urban
planning and design. Each will speak about their own
work and the extent to which they or their larger “home
disciplines” have responded to or generated new forms
of knowledge that were drawn from
elsewhere or have been adopted by others elsewhere. And, to a greater
or lesser degree, depending on the
speakers, they will also share those thoughts with us
with reference to Barcelona when it’s relevant. So we’re going to begin
with extended remarks by Professor Busquets,
who will, of course, start talking about Barcelona. And so let me just give,
before I turn over– oh, and let’s say
something about format. We will turn it over
to Joan, then we’ll hear from Chris Reed, then
we’ll hear from Carles Muro, then the four of us will sit up
and have a short conversation. And then we’ll open out to
the audience for questions. So, before we start,
in order to not disrupt the flow of
the presentations I’m just going to give a little
bio of our three speakers. So I’ve alluded to
some of Joan’s renown as an urban planner, urban
designer, and architect. But he’s also the first
Martin Bucksbaum Professor in the Practice of Urban
Planning and Design here at the GSD. In 2011, he was awarded the
Erasmus prize, an annual award for a person who has made
an exceptional contribution to European culture,
society, or social science. And that was in appreciation
of his impressive and multifaceted [? oeuvre ?]
in the field of city planning. As I mentioned
earlier, he served as head of Urban Planning for
the Barcelona city council and was involved in the
preparations for the Barcelona Olympics, including the New
Downtowns for the City program. Prior to that, Joan
was a founding member of the Laboratorio de
Urbanismo in Barcelona and, several decades ago,
undertook a long-term study of squatter settlements
in Barcelona and other southern European
cities, for which he received the Spanish National
Award for Town Planning. He won that award in
’81 and then again in ’85 for a master
plan of another town. He won another award in 2002,
in an international competition in Italy and in the Netherlands. He is a highly respected
and awarded practitioner and scholar, author of
about eight books on cities as diverse– not only
Barcelona but Aleppo, I was surprised to
see, and New Orleans. And he’s a dear
and beloved member of our faculty in Urban
Planning and Design. Chris Reed, who will
speak after Joan, is an internationally
recognized figure in the fields of
landscape and urbanism. He’s the founder and director
of Stoss Landscape Urbanism and associate professor
in practice of Landscape Architecture here at the GSD. A large proportion
of his research focuses on the relationship
between ecological thinking and design practices. And his coedited volume
titled Projective Ecologies was published in 2014. And, more recently,
he’s been involved in a series of really
compelling projects, revisioning strategies for downtown Dallas
and its waterfront– you’re doing a studio on
that, I think– for a derelict
refinery and port sites along the lakefront in
Mississauga, Canada, for the city of Detroit. He’s done work on
waterfront development in Shanghai and Green Bay. He has also helped us re-imagine
the Harvard University campus, creating a vibrant new plaza
a couple blocks over there and involved in many
ongoing projects examining the role of landscape in
structuring and imagining the contemporary city. His work has been recognized
with a Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape
Architecture, the Topos International Landscape
Award, and other projects. So it’s great having
you here with us, Chris. And then Carles Muro,
who’s associate professor of Architecture here at the GSD,
was not only born in Barcelona, but he studied at the Barcelona
School of Architecture. We’re really happy he’s here. He’s been teaching
at UPD, and now he’s an educator and practitioner
and faculty in the Department of Architecture. His work has been extensively
exhibited and widely featured in international publications. And he recently completed
projects, including the public market in Mallorca
and a health-care center in a town near Barcelona. He had a leadership position at
the Architectural Association in London. He was a director of
the master’s program at, uh– it’s UPC– I guess
that’s in Barcelona– and been a visiting professor at
many schools worldwide. And we’re really
happy that he’s here to share his reflections on
his work as well as Barcelona. So, without further ado,
I’m going to turn it over to Professor Busquets. [APPLAUSE] Good afternoon. Thank you very much for
the introduction, Diana. I think the issue that
Diane Davis is raising today is very interesting,
because I feel it is fully impossible
to design one fragment of the city,
or one city as a whole, without taking
into consideration the knowledge transfer. We cannot design the city
only taking the local data– the local elements. There are always
other elements that we have to take into
consideration, because there is a lot of cultural, social,
and technological factors that we have to take, and
they are already affecting the majority of the cities. Is it the way I feel that,
when we take any city– and Diane proposed that we
start talking about Barcelona, and I like to do that– I
think we can see that, in all of the cities, they are always
an identifiable urban form– as in, there is one form
that makes us feel that this is Barcelona and is not London. And I think this is something
that sometimes we are linked to the geographical factors. And we feel that the
factors are more important, oftentimes the landmarks. Sometimes we say, well, this
city is like that, and we said, well, Paris has
the Eiffel Tower, or Sydney has the Opera House. But this perhaps is not
the more remarkable thing. Probably what we
like is that to see other factors that make
this city really clearly with identity. And that sometimes we
owe to the geography. For instance, when
we see [INAUDIBLE], we recognize that this
piece is in Manhattan. And we don’t see the
Statue of Liberty. But we acknowledge Manhattan. And that’s the reason
that probably makes sense that we start thinking,
why, the cities, they have these
form of identity? And then we come up,
and we see at the top, we have the case
of– that is really we are continuous
with Barcelona. This is the– sorry about that. That this what we like to see. Because Barcelona, as Diane
said, is a [INAUDIBLE] city. We can see that
the buildings are following more or less the
same roof– the same ceiling. And we head down. This is Amsterdam. We see that it looked
like another city, but it shares the
same principle. And then we come up and
say, OK, this is probably what we call a European city. It looked like
another European city, because it’s flat–
has a ceiling. This is Manhattan, 1920s. It’s not a European city. What happened? There is a change– there is a
new paradigm, a new invention, in terms of the project, that
makes this vertical city that was adopted in most of
the American cities. And that is what we name
today the American city. Only one city in America is
not following this paradigm– Washington. So the way that we can see that
there are design rules that makes that the cities follow
certain knowledge transfer, or not. And I think this is a decision
that we have to evaluate. Second point I like to. Within this general
urban form, there are some critical projects, some
very important urban projects, that make the cities special. In the case of Barcelona,
this is the project that we should refer. Diane mentioned already
the Cerda project– 1859. One guy, this engineer, Cerda–
engineer and architect– makes this proposal
for the whole space around the city [INAUDIBLE]
and makes a city that was 10 times bigger. This is quite unique. Only a few cities
make this effort. One city is Manhattan. Manhattan, 1811, they
did the same exercise. In one shot, in
one single project, they make the city
for 100 years. And that happened. And, in a certain
moment, we have to be prepared how we
can design one city that can be long-lasting, 100 years. But many other cities,
they have other patterns. Like, for instance,
if you take Boston. Boston is a city that has
very interesting projects, but the projects in Boston, they
are referring to these, what I like to call, “intermediate
scale,” meaning that you can do one project by doing– This is the– no. I’m sorry. The pointer probably–
This is the pointer. You can see that you can do
one project– the famous Back Bay– a beautiful,
incredible project. But then you do
this project, when that is finished, you do
another and another, in a way that each piece can respond
to a different brief– has different needs,
have different intention, different developers, different
infrastructural matters. And that, I think,
is something that we have to pay into consideration. Within this idea of
identity, the cities are using the project
in different ways. But, if you want to imagine that
the city design is something consistent that has to
be for the long term, we have to take
into consideration that we have to address
as much [? just ?] the local factors but also
the cultural and technological trends of each period. And we are now in a
period where there are a lot of changes–
in technology, in the social, in the ecological
issues– that probably it will force us that
the design of the city is going to be
slightly different. Let’s move into the
Barcelona experience. The exhibition in
the main gallery explains the strategies
of the transformation of the city over the
last three decades, when the city passed
from this period, where you can see this
type of development into the city that was
really very, very poor, in terms of the
development of the city. You can see the lack
of infrastructure– the lack of quality
of the space. And the city decided a system
of sequential strategies. The first strategy, and probably
the most important strategy, was to understand
that what is clear– and I think that is something
shared in many cities, also American cities– is
that the open space has to get quality. The methodology that
was applied in Barcelona is a method that tried to say,
because the city’s different, the type of projects we have
to do to refurbish the space and to improve the space
has to be different. And that produced a
variety of solutions and, probably, you
know, and you can see in the exhibit, many
different solutions that makes that the spaces that
they were really very poor, they are becoming as spaces
very important and very nice in the development of the city. You can see the parks. And here I think what
is interesting is the idea of the– I would
say even the confrontation between the local architect and
some international architects, joining together and
playing together. In Barcelona, you have this
fish from– sorry– the fish from Frank Gehry. You have then others
elements that they are also presenting, like
this beautiful park from [INAUDIBLE] that was
teaching, here, at the GSD before he passed away. But anyway, those are really
remarkable pieces that makes that, in the city, you can
discover this [INAUDIBLE] process, not only at the
scale that usually we mention in Barcelona, but the
scale of the metropolitan area. And that includes 35
different municipalities. And that is what is the
exhibit about– spaces that perhaps they are
not so well known, because they are not the
ones of the central city. But they also respond to the
same strategy– what to do, because the spaces
can gain quality. I have to say that, after this,
the majority of the population in Barcelona believed that
this is a good strategy, even that they know anything
about the city, anything about urbanism. But they really feel that
the quality is important. The second strategy was
very much to refurbish and to try to improve
the quality of the most problematic neighborhoods. One of these is
this, the old town. You can see, when you look
at the old town, the amount of investment that the city put
just to refurbish the old town and make these spaces right
in the middle of the city. Considering that you can do
a rehabilitation of existing buildings, and the apartments
can be refurbished, and then the same population
can stay in the old town. I think this is quite important. Design of the city means also
taking into consideration some management strategy. If not, a good design strategy
could be a failure, I think. Before, Diana was
also showing what in the evolution of the city
you can always be attentive how you have to
reshuffle to make that the control
of the city also responds to the social equity. Which I think is something
that we [? must like. ?] In the city center, you have the
contrast between the old fabric and these gigantic projects. I call that sometimes the
“freezer,” from [INAUDIBLE]– from Richard Meier. Eh? You know? You can ask yourself,
what is a freezer making in the middle of the city? But, in any case, this
project, it creates a synergy into other activities,
cultural activities, in the city center that
have been quite provocative. Next to this building, you have
this beautiful housing project, for the local residents,
done by [INAUDIBLE]. But also another
strategy, which is what they call the
third strategy, is the one that refers very
much to the quality how you can requalify
the infrastructure, how you can amplify the
public transportation, and you can give
solution to the traffic. Barcelona, like
many other cities, has the pressure of the
traffic– the private mobility. And this is the diagram that
was in place in Barcelona– that is the waterfront–
where you have the cars going under and above, but always
the traffic that is through has a different way
than urban traffic. All as, when we
are driving a car, we have two different attitude. When we go from one end
of Boston to the airport, this guy walks as
fast as possible. But when you go to deliver
something to this house, you look at the traffic lights. You are in another attitude. That’s the way– if you could
split these two [INAUDIBLE], then you get a quite
efficient system, like probably is what has
been in place in Barcelona. Also changing, you can see
that this space is really very much only car-oriented. From that, you get
this, if you do this. If you take that, you cover,
and you make a layer of parking, because those [INAUDIBLE]
then you can [? have a ?] [? space ?] [? of ?] that. Where you can have some
flows, but the majority is pedestrian-oriented
[INAUDIBLE]. In this respect, I
mean this strategy, also takes into consideration
how you can make new activity into the city. And that is the program
that we call the [email protected], which is in the place where
they were all factories, that they were obsolete,
and how you can introduce new activity in this place. Creating that activity
related very much to the digital and
the knowledge economy. All that is being
created in this place. And the fourth
strategy is what to do with the empty
interstitial spaces. The city discovered– and I
think that is quite normal. And I think, it
seems to me, it’s a design strategy that you can
apply in most of our cities. If you consider any city,
it seems from the Google map it looks like
everything is done. But if you start
knocking– [KNOCKING NOISE] –you discover that
some places are empty. But you need to knock the city. If you don’t, you don’t see. And when you knock the city,
you discover all industries, railway yards–
all these elements. And those are the
place where you can create room
for new facilities, new parks, new activity. And that is what we call the
New Centralities program. Four of these areas
are the ones that were proposed for the Olympics, ’92. The rest are done in the joint
venture public and private. You can see, for
instance, this project. This is from
[INAUDIBLE] Morales. That is a gigantic
project in this place, in this empty
spot, where you can see a quite beautiful
project integrating a huge park, two schools,
and private development. All that is one
[? package, ?] done by a private developer in
joint venture with the city, and the city pays $0
for this development. I think this is
quite remarkable, this idea that,
in the management, the projects can
become beautiful, in terms of what they
produce architectural, but also in terms of what
the city get out of it. And you can see how they
play with the topography of the place, just to
make also [? lean ?] from this neighborhood
to the other. Which, in fact, is this
pass under way [INAUDIBLE]. Rafael Moneo sometimes
called that is like a skyscraper
that is sleeping [INAUDIBLE] in the city. That probably is
a good reference. Within this strategy,
the waterfront probably is the most well-known
part of the project, where you can see the transformation
from a very derelict land, industrial site, quite
polluted beaches, into quite beautiful spaces that you
can see that [INAUDIBLE] in the exhibit. That the way that you
pass from this image into that, where you
can have this access, the city has today, and the
metropolitan area has, like, 30 kilometers of beaches. Which we must say is probably
the unique city– big cities in Europe that
has this facility, ready for the residents. People sometimes say,
well, the tourist– this is tour-oriented. No. The residents are
the ones using that. And sometimes a lot of
tourists are coming. Welcome. OK. And that could be how
this strategy that you can see in the model can also
be propagated outside the city, creating what we call some
metropolitan [INAUDIBLE]. And that could be [INAUDIBLE]. Let’s move back
to the main item. The strategies
that been evolving when we are presenting
Barcelona are strategies that also has to be
confronted with the paradigms that other cities. When you look at the
exhibition, you’re going to see that the exhibit
is like a double exhibit. You will see a lot of
Barcelona, but certainly, after every chapter,
you discover how other cities
are struggling– how they are tackling with the
same problems– the problems that today are facing that
I’m going to refer to. This double reading,
probably, for you could be very interesting
in the exhibit, because you can see cities
that they are offering better solutions to the
sustainable mobility that what Barcelona
has achieved. In others, probably
Barcelona is leading the way, in other cities. And I think this is
what is very important. Going back to the
knowledge of transfer, sometimes has been said that
this is a question of fashion. And, in part, it is. It’s a formal question. For instance, many cities at the
beginning of the 20th century, all the cities or
most of the cities, they liked to be like Paris. The mayors were visiting
Paris with the architects, and they were
trying to understand how they can repeat Paris
in Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo– even Chicago. It was a city that
was trying to do that. When you look at these fantastic
schemes from [INAUDIBLE], this is very much
into these logics– how the Beaux Arts,
the French Beaux Arts, can be influential
in the American city. But, as I said before,
it’s something else. It’s not only about the form. It’s also about the content. And the cities today, they
are facing like before. For instance, when
London was inventing the first underground,
the underground was later replicated
in many other cities. And that was really a
good way of solving, really, a very
dramatic question– how you can provide an efficient
answer to the mass transport. [INAUDIBLE] attention
to transfer of knowledge has a lot to do also with the
idea of what the city’s needs– what the change and
the innovation– how that can be produced. And, for instance, I feel
that this is the place, probably the
universities like the GSD are the ideal places where
these things can be systematized and where the understanding
of the real problems can be put on the table, to
understand how you can improve and how you can transform. The capacity to interpret
the best strategies of urban projects,
to address the clear, well-defined situations
that cities has. I think this is important. And, to do that, I think you
have to understand four things. The first is, we have to be
able to learn and to understand and comprehend the
urbanistic problems of city. I insist each city
is different– we have to learn how we
can scan the city, how we can learn the
specific condition. The second is that
we have to have a critical understanding
of how other cities are solving the problems. I think this is an
important resource, and probably the GSD is
quite ahead in this question. The third is how we can apply
these specific solutions to this city that
we are studying. But the four is not neglected. We have to imagine that
the cities has also the possibility of
creating new solutions, creating new projects. [INAUDIBLE] there
is a lot of capacity that we can invest
and change that. For instance, if we
go back to Barcelona, you can see this project
that we know already, the Certa project. But when he was doing
these studies, in 1855, he studied 12 cities
across the globe. You can see here, Buenos
Aires, Boston, St. Petersburg, and he was continuing. I’m asking myself how
he was doing that when he doesn’t have Google. [LAUGHTER] No, but he did that. And he was confronting
the 12 cities. And, after that, he came
back with a proposal that has nothing to do
with any of the 12 cities. He make a beautiful grid
system, with the [INAUDIBLE] that becomes an
international paradigm. And I think that means
that, by researching, [INAUDIBLE] we don’t
get exactly the answer, but probably we are very
close to understand what the way that we can design the
best solution for the city. I think this is
quite clever, and I think that is a good precedent
that produced this fantastic city but also produced
probably the room for the existence
of these fantastic pieces of architecture. Because I think the
best architecture is always placed with a
very good urban project. That is probably what
we learn everywhere that we study about this thing. The second step, I
think it happened on the already earlier 20th
century, when Rubio asked Forestier, that in that moment
he was the Paris park director, he invite Forestier, please
come down to Barcelona and allow me to organize the
park service of the city. Forestier agreed. And he said, well, for
me, it’s also challenging, because I’m going to
discover something else. I’m not going to come with
my Paris, Parisian catalog to apply to Barcelona. No. I want to discover,
he said, what is going to be the Mediterranean garden. And both of them, they produced
this fantastic exercise of different models
and these realizations in the Montjuic area that
they are quite remarkable. [INAUDIBLE] I feel
this is a good example of this type of
knowledge transfer that produce also the
creation of new concepts that could be, in that
particular case, new ideas about the park, the
city, and nature. And that, I think,
is what probably we have to learn and to
use with this example. But we can go on for many other
cities and many other examples. And I think it’s
very interesting, when we study one
city, to discover, what are the key projects in
the development of the city? But also, what are
the knowledge transfer that we can discover from
one city to the other? Because it’s good
to understand what are the roots of those different
projects, in what sense they are based. And we are going to see that, in
general, all the good projects never use the technique
of copy-and-paste. They are something else. There is always a creativity
in the development of that. Then, for instance, when we
go to the recent experience of Barcelona we can discover
very different forms of intervention. Refurbishing, restructuring,
creating new solutions that could be in
terms of the design but also in the management. I think we have to
pay attention to that. But, in the end, we
discover that perhaps it’s not a singular model, the ones
that today are going to follow. It’s not a dogmatic
period, where one solution is more the research by
design, designing in a way that then we can
learn and we can discover what is the best path. And today, as I
said before, we’re in a period where the
research in challenging issues that they are
facing our cities, like the sustainable mobility,
the efficient [INAUDIBLE], the social equity,
the integration of new forms of economy,
can be the source of inspiration for redesigning
the city and the existing city and creating projects that could
be new models or paradigms, as we said before. Certainly, they are projects
that they are changing the way that the city’s done,
and they are becoming paradigms for other cities. The exhibition of
site is showing how that has been done
in selected cities and how Barcelona is
approaching this process. Tomorrow morning,
the conference that’s going to be here at the GSD
will be addressing these issues. And you are invited to attend
the discussion, during which some selected speakers
from Barcelona– they are already here,
and US specialists– will try to clarify these
issues for all us. We may learn tomorrow how we
may address the challenging issues that our emerging
culture is demanding. Our responsibility,
as designers, is to be able to give
the right answers. Society is waiting
these from all us. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Good afternoon. I know it’s been a long day–
hopefully an energizing day. If you’re not energized
yet, come talk to us. We’ll energize you,
a bit later on. I want to talk about the
relationship of Barcelona to the discipline of landscape. And I want to do it both
from the perspective of the profession of
landscape but also from a personal perspective. This was my first experience
of the city of Barcelona. This was during the
Olympic Games, in 1992. And I was, of course,
watching this on TV. And this is the diving
venue and the views you would get on
television from that event. And I was just blown
away at the way in which not just the television
coverage but the event itself had really featured
and become a catalyst for thinking about that city. I think in many ways,
I want to argue, that this was an important
moment through the ’80s and beginning of the ’90s when
a lot of us around the world rediscovered the
city as a source of social and cultural
and economic value. But also it was a moment
where the design disciplines found a renewed
value in landscape and in the public realm. Some of what we saw
on TV were spaces that had been
created or renovated for the Games themselves,
but some of what we saw was the street life of the city. This is the Ramblas,
of course, through part of the old city– an incredibly
vibrant, active, and frankly beautiful part of the city–
that allowed people to simply stroll back and forth. There were these
moments I discovered, as well as these other
moments– these new pieces of the city or renovated
pieces of the city, where infrastructure had
been calmed– in this case, sunken into the
ground– in order that new civic and social
connections could be made, both along the waterfront
and to the waterfront. And, of course, as Professor
Busquets mentioned, this incredible
reach out to the sea, capturing that very
special Mediterranean landscape that has become
really essential to Barcelona’s identity. But again, as Professor
Busquets mentioned, it wasn’t just
these big projects, it was a series
of smaller-scale, urban-acupuncture projects
in the heart of the existing city, meant to bring the
vitality of the Games and of these larger
urban projects right into the heart of
existing neighborhoods. And so it was a
multiscalar strategy, one that recognized the value
of traditional public spaces but also gave life to
new forms of landscape and civic life, as well. And you can see this in
various streetscapes– in small public squares. And, interestingly enough,
also put on the table the idea of landscape
and infrastructure working together, as a
series of– or as a pair of colluding
agendas, if you will. That the infrastructure project
was no longer single-minded, simply about getting, in
this case, cars from one place to the other,
but, in fact, that that could be integrated
with a social, cultural landscape agenda in
the heart of the city and that these
mega projects could bring to life new
forms of landscape and offer new opportunities
for social engagement immediately adjacent to
strong neighborhoods. This was also an opportunity to
create new cultural landscapes. The botanical garden, here. And it was an
opportunity to look at entirely new areas
of the city that could be formed around or
formed by major new landscape projects. Now, on the one hand, this was
a critical moment, I’d argue, where we’re all very
excited about rediscovering the city and the value
of landscape and the way that landscape can, again, be
cross-fertilized or hybridized with other disciplines,
both urban design and infrastructure. But I might argue
that this is what was going on in
the 19th century, already, by landscape architects
like Frederick Law Olmsted. This is part of his work, here
in Boston, the Muddy River and the Back Bay Fens. I love the construction
photograph here, because of course we
all know Olmsted’s work is very lush and beautiful and
is a respite from the city. Certainly there were open-space
and environmental agendas and recreational agendas. But this construction
photograph shows you that his work was also about
flood control and hydrology. It was about urban
transportation. You can see the beginning
of a light rail line, here. You can also begin to see, in
the design of those spaces, from the photograph
and plan of the Fens, that these projects
integrated cartways– what became roadways– and
that these new parks and roads, in combination,
created new neighborhoods for development. And so here was a
landscape architect, back in the 19th century,
doing an urban project that was multilayered, quite
diverse, quite complex. And it’s this kind
of hybridization, this kind of complicated
project that I think Barcelona inspired us to rediscover. From that came some
incredible projects, first in the Netherlands–
social spaces in the heart of the city, as
well as new forms of landscape integrated with infrastructure
on the very edge of the city, at the very edge of the sea. Throughout the ’90s and
2000s, those same ideas were manifested in various
places across North America, as well. What was a former
rail yard, converted into Millennium Park,
here in Chicago, a combination of landscape
spaces, major works of art, and a major concert
pavilion by Frank Gehry. New forms of
hybridized landscape. This is the Seattle Art Museum
and Olympic Sculpture Park– very clearly a hybrid
between a sculpture garden, a piece of landscape, a piece
of very robust infrastructure that’s negotiating a steep
grade change and passages over active rail lines
and active roadways, all in an effort to get
people down to the waterfront. And then more recent
projects, like the High Line on a renovated rail
trestle in Manhattan. Other projects, like the
Brooklyn Bridge Park, renovating older pieces
of industrial land on the waterfront. This isn’t just a North
American phenomenon. It’s one that’s carried
around the world. And in different ways. This was an insertion into
an existing botanical garden, a series of insertion
that really renewed the life of this public space. And a recent project
in Madrid which involved the
sinking of a highway and the creation of some
incredible new open spaces, landscapes, and neighborhoods
along the river, there. So, in many ways,
what we’re seeing now in landscape is a culmination
of what was being suggested, I would argue, by Barcelona
in the ’80s and ’90s– a real robust
rediscovery of the city, reveling in opportunities
for renovating pieces of existing fabric,
whether they were small-scale renovations
or large-scale renovations and repurposing of urban fabric. I think, too, this whole
era represents a revival of landscape practices,
especially in the city and of the city,
and a reintroduction of landscape hybrids– landscape
hybridized with urbanism and with infrastructure– that
has opened up opportunities for some incredible
cross-disciplinary collaboration and
fertilization that continues to evolve, here at
the GSD and around the world. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] Which one is it? Any of them? OK. Thank you so much, Joan, for
this overview of the Barcelona experience in relation to so
many other urban experiences, and Chris, for your
insight in how Barcelona was instrumental in
helping the landscape discipline in rethinking
the way open urban space could be expressed. I have to say that I wasn’t very
certain what to present today. And so what could be
my best contribution to this discussion? And also taking very much into
account that the main audience today are you guys,
the incoming students attending the open house. And I decided to offer a
completely different take on the topic and add new
elements into the conversation. The only thing, I just
realized I probably have too many slides. So, at some point,
perhaps I might– someone can interrupt
me straight away and move on to the conversation. You will. I know you will, because
that was an issue that was beginning to come up. So, basically, I wanted to
share with you some thoughts about the very notion of
transferability and negotiation and really to try to discuss
some cases of the negotiation between architecture and
the city, which I thought that could be something
more useful probably for incoming students. So let me try– if
this works this way. Yeah. So, to speak really
of the– that promises to be long,
actually. [LAUGH] To speak really of the
notion of transferability takes us to talk directly also
of notions of translatability, I would say. And I was bringing
this very quickly to, in a very superficial way,
although– to the conversation, because I think that we tend to
look at translation in a very superficial way. And translation forces us to not
just take a text from a source language into another
text in a target language, but it creates some
sort of negotiation which I think is very
close to– or, at least, we can learn a lot, necessarily,
from the– into the design disciplines. So, just to be short,
I’m taking a few images from a simple, very
well-known book, The Adventures of Pinocchio. This is the very first
edition, by Carlo Collodi. And let me just– one second. Yep. So that would be the first
English translations, by Mary Alice Murray,
which continues to be a classical translation
into Everyman Library– into the Everyman Library. And I think that, of course,
it raises lots of issues. We all know that a perfect
translation is an impossible dream. But we continue to translate. And that’s why I think
this is relevant. Of course, there’s a
choice here, already, changing “The Adventures of
Pinocchio” and “The Story of a Puppet” in the order. There’s also a
mistake, of course– the “Illustrations
by C. Mazzanti” should be “Enrico Mazzanti.” But I think it
creates lots of issues of equivalence of meaning,
sameness of references, and the balance between
sound and sense, which is something
very important. But we could go
into– for instance, this is the very first
illustration of Pinocchio– that’s by Enrico
Mazzanti– that forces a completely different type
of [INAUDIBLE] and other kind of translations, some we could
call just “illustration,” but it’s a form of
what can be called “transliteral semiotics.” Semiologists call it
“intersemiotic” translation. And it forces to make a set
of decisions of choices, not just to give an
image to Pinocchio. This could be another
one, by Attilio Mussino, the classical one. And we could see a range of all
of those illustrations, going into even one of the most recent
ones and most beautiful ones, by Spanish painter
Antonio Saura. But there could be a whole
completely different set of translations,
of transmutations, into deciding to
transform that into film. And it’s not just the new way
that Pinocchio looks, but also all the decisions
that transforming a book into a movie
and a completely different type of editing,
of timing, and so on, and so forth. But still, you can go
back, without changing your own language. How this book by
Giorgio Manganelli, Pinocchio– un Libro Parallelo,
which is a complete rewriting, and how every
discipline has to come to terms with its own
discipline and to engage in conversation with everything
that has happened in the past. I think that’s important enough. I was bringing
all that because I think that recent
studies in translation have told us that– have
“taught” us, actually– that translation
can be understood as a form of negotiation. And that’s absolutely
something which is obvious, but it has not been identified
until very recently. And I think that, besides
the understanding how to negotiate amongst
things, is trying to reach an agreement between
opposing or interests. That’s something
that we have to do. As designers, whether we’re
designing architecture we’re designing
the city, we have to face an incredible number
of different parameters that sometimes are at
odds with each other. And we have to negotiate
amongst them, which is something quite important. And part of the first
task of the designer should be, try to establish some
sort of hierarchies and order and strategy to address those. So the very notion of
negotiation can be– and I would actually like to
continue this conversation in another setting,
because I think that could be something
very, very relevant. So that could also
be seen as a form of negotiation between
two conditions that share the same border. This is the typical Rubin
illusion of the vase. So, if we look at the white
background, we see the vase. If we imagine a
black background, we would see two faces meeting. And that’s the way that cities
have been normally described– and that’s where I was going,
in a sense– have been described in this figure-background
condition. These are images taken
from the seminal book by Colin Rowe and Fred
Koetter, Collage City, trying to describe
two conditions of the city with
[INAUDIBLE] diagrams that have been very powerful. And trying to describe
the opposition between the historic city
or the traditional city and the modern city. We can see, a very
simple way, how the built fabric is in black
and the open space is in white. And in traditional
city, one could say that all the open space
is carved from the [INAUDIBLE] built fabric. While, in the modern condition
of the city– and Colin Rowe uses the example of
[INAUDIBLE] by Le Corbusier. One could say that
architecture is placed like objects
within a universal or a continuous field in a
completely different thing. But there could be a
completely different way of understanding
the relationship between architecture
and the city. And that’s probably what– This is– for those
of you who will be joining the
GSD at some point, you will be referred to this
Nolli map of Rome probably many, many, many times. But I think it’s normally
misread, in my view. It’s normally taken as an
example of figure-ground. And for me it has
nothing to do with that. Apart from many
virtues that it has, or many qualities
that it has, having been the most precise map
of Rome for 200 years, it was first published in 1748. And until the 1970s it was
used by the city of Rome as the official document
for the center of the city. It also introduces
issues which I think– Perhaps it’s like a footnote,
but it’s kind of relevant here– that it was
the first map of Rome and one of the first
maps, first city maps, to be oriented to the north,
just to magnetic north. Before, they were
oriented to the east. That’s why “orient,”
meaning “east,” is the way we use
for orientation. Those are the 12 plates of
the beautiful Nolli map. But I’d like to
follow with you, just a minute, to pay attention
to another way of reading that which is not at
all figure-ground. One of the ways
we could read that is as first the position
between the city fabric– so, the continuous,
like, repetition and difference, in
a sense. [INAUDIBLE] city fabric and the exceptions. City fabric would be– which
one is the– yeah, this one. So, city fabric would be
with this kind of black, and the exceptions would be,
for lack of a better word, the monuments, in a sense. But I think– and that’s
where I was going– that one could actually look
at that in a different way, starting from somewhere
like Piazza della Minerva, going into Santa
Maria sopra Minerva, going into the cloister,
going to up through the stairs into one of the courtyards,
going into the Piazza– [INAUDIBLE]–
Piazza [INAUDIBLE]. [INAUDIBLE] There’s a continuity
of collective space, so there’s no distinction
between– there’s no real distinction
between this and that. And that’s something which is
absolutely irrelevant to me. So, once again, going back to
the Pantheon what was there, we could look at that as
an object in the city, or we could look at that as
probably its main value, which is the amazing quality
of its interior space. But, in order to enjoy and
understand this interior space, we need to transition
from the city. And I’d like to point out
into this porch, this portico, which, I think, is probably what
makes it absolutely relevant. It makes this
negotiation that I wanted to discuss, between architecture
and the city, adding layers, adding qualities to it. That’s, once again, the
same possibility here. And the porches
have been definitely very special places
of transition. One can talk about the
transition between– well, this is the Fra
Angelico Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. So, of course, the transition
from a state of not being pregnant to being pregnant. But that’s why it’s really
a transitional condition. But it’s not by accident. That happens to be in this
layered space of the– And that’s one of my favorite
views of the Pantheon. Of course, the incredibly
beautiful and powerful sense of the interior is essential,
but we need to negotiate, we need to engage with the city,
we need to go back to the city, and that’s the threshold between
the Pantheon and today’s city. So this is the way
that we normally understand the
relationship between– or, like, many people
understand the separation between public and private,
interior and exterior, like a thin line that
divides one from the other. And I’d like, for a
few seconds, if you allow me– bear
with me for a few more minutes– to
inhabit that line and to try to make it more
layered, more widened, to some extent. So a few very quick examples. I’m not going to
elaborate on them. That’s in Milan. That’s one other version
of a porch that obviously not just introduces an
extension of the public realm into architecture but also
provides shelter– protection from rain, from
sun, from anything that you’d like to see. But even buildings
like that. [INAUDIBLE] We look at buildings
like the Seagram, in New York, that we tend to–
or many people tend to– see it as the perfection of the prism. But definitely the important
thing for me, in this context, is to look at the way it
responds to the 1916 zoning law. And, as opposed to having all
of these setbacks, these sides, Mies decides to set the building
back, creating a new type. And this is Mies’s offering,
or the Seagram’s offering, to the city of New York, there–
this widening of Park Avenue, creating unpredictable
conditions. And not only that, if
we look more carefully, there’s more layering. There’s a canopy,
there’s these columns, and then you get into a
series of layered spaces, like a series of thresholds. Until you eventually
get to the enclosure that separates
inside and outside. And we could also do the
same with the Lever House, with its amazingly beautiful
garden for accessing. Once again, the
stairs in the Seagram plaza, offering an
additional open space on this kind of–
things that are neither one thing nor the other. It could be more than one thing. Stoops, in Harlem, are
providing another kind of interface between
architecture and the city. Or even this way of
occupying the emergency exits of these houses in
Harlem as a privileged space for watching a parade. I could actually pass
a few more examples very quickly, because
I think it’s probably– we could collaborate on what
could be argued probably the best building in New York
and how it really elaborates on this layering of
conditions by carving, by bringing the canopy
out, to bring you, to collect you in the street. But already these
inverted carving of the building and the bridge. So, very quickly, I’ll pass it. I might not even comment
on other examples that we could consider. This building by
[INAUDIBLE] creating all of these layerings and
almost nested Russian dolls. Or this still in
Santiago de Compostella, one of the most
beautiful squares that I’ve ever been to,
creating all sorts of conditions to stairs as a stage. But also wanted to pay
attention to this wall, which is one of the most incredible
blank walls that I know, that contribute to this
square around the cathedral, with the presence
of this bench, which is the minimum level of
interface, the minimum level of contribution. But I really think
it’s an incredible way of contributing to city life. I’ll pass this quickly. Most of you know,
obviously, the [INAUDIBLE], but I think that
we should actually make some space for
the conversation. A last set of images
refer to the ambiguity of some spaces that could
be read in different ways. This is Paley Park, in New York,
which could be obviously read or understood in
the context that I want to present as an
outdoor living room, as a room without a roof. And we could actually
discuss– I actually said one of the
rules that I wouldn’t show any images from Barcelona,
but that was a slippage. And that’s the [INAUDIBLE]
project, by Rafael [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE] Morales, which
is difficult to know what’s interior, what’s exterior. And it’s really offering
a very different type for collective space. And that’s the notion
of collective space which is really adding
to examples that we all know– the Tate Modern– or
even, to some extent, spaces we’ll add which are
completely interior, like these spaces in the
Seattle Public Library, by OMA, which also contain, also
offer this notion of publicity, this notion of the
collective to the city. More covered streets. I’m not going to– I
wanted to at least bring one example at home,
for those of you– and that’s, I think, the
last example, so I’m going to stop in here one second. This is Holyoke Center, which
is now being refurbished, in Harvard Square. And I think it’s very important,
the way the building offers this little square, this little
plaza, towards Harvard Square. But how really it engages
in a continuous way through, from Harvard Yard to the houses. But [INAUDIBLE] there
would be another reading of what Joan said about
the identity of the cities. It uses the traditional paving
of the sidewalks in Cambridge as part of the–
this red brick– as part of the material
that continues the street [INAUDIBLE]. That’s the sort of space
before they placed the doors. That’s the continuity. It supported this
kind of activities, or even this kind of activity. So, just to go
back very quickly, and to introduce–
as I was saying, I just wanted drop
material so that we can have more material
for the conversation. Going back to the
Pantheon, we do learn from everything
Architects learn from buildings. This is Palladio’s
reading of the Pantheon. Or this could be [INAUDIBLE]
reading of the interior space of the Pantheon. And we could have a
collection of images of that. But then we definitely
learn from books, and we learn from cities. And this is Robert Venturi
and Denise Scott Brown, Learning from Las Vegas, that
showed us or gave us a new way to understand the strip. So we learn from books. And that’s the last
slide, definitely. That’s the– So don’t worry anymore.
[LAUGH] I’m just moving into the conversation
I’ll be very quiet, there. Uh– no, it’s– This is for me an
important moment, that it’s the first–
that it’s a book by Oriol Bohigas, Reconstructing
Barcelona– Reconstruccio de Barcelona. It’s the first time that
the experience in Barcelona had been thought and
could be, in my view, thought as a
retroactive manifesto on the city of Barcelona
and the transformations. So definitely learning
from Barcelona. I’ll just continue
the conversation and try to say what we have
learned from Barcelona. Sorry for the length. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] We will not be much longer than
30 minutes, max, [INAUDIBLE]. I think that we’ll
start– I would like to make a few comments,
maybe ask some questions, and then we’ll open
up to the audience. It’s on. It’s on? Well, first of all, I
want to thank everybody. It was a great set
of presentations. And there’s a lot of
stuff to think about. I guess the first comment
I wanted to make– and I’ll make a few comments
and then questions– I guess I’m really
happy that Joan raised the idea of research, in linking
it to the idea of knowledge transfer. Because I think that one of the
things that we’re trying to do, here at the GSD, is introduce
research into the curriculum, if not through the
Master of Design program, through the
professional degrees. And I had prepared a set
of questions for you, Joan, earlier, about– I thought
that we could discuss. One of them would
have been, what is the role of the university
in knowledge transfer? And you, in a way, came right
to it by talking about research. The idea that you can have
ideas floating around, but how they can be brought
down to your particular– whether it’s your typography or
your history or your culture– needs some research. So. And I would also
say then, in that context, your concept
of translation is also important to think
about– how do you translate an idea, through research, down
to the specificity of a place? So I very much value you
putting on the table, Carles, the idea, the concept
of translation, instead of transfer. Because the notion of “transfer”
kind of implies something just comes from outside and
gets plopped down on a place. So there has to be a set of
reflections through research as well as a translation. So I guess my
question for everybody here– since I want
to also represent urban planning, which is not–
no presentations on that. We have urban planning
design together– is about the role of a citizens
in the translation of ideas. Because a lot of
the visuals we saw were kind of from the design
professional– thinking, going through research,
thinking about translation, thinking about new
ways of seeing, thinking about new
design practices. But to what degree does a
citizen play an important role in the translation of an
idea that comes from abroad and comes to a city? So I don’t know who wants
to begin on that one. Carles? [LAUGHTER] Well, I don’t have
a very clear idea about the role of the citizens
in that sort of translation. I think the role of the citizens
is definitely very important. And now that I–
I tried to avoid speaking frontally of
Barcelona in the presentation, as was clear. I think the role of citizens
has been important in Barcelona, at first supporting a
very clear leadership. I think the initial years,
almost the heroic years of the transformation
of Barcelona, which were in the
’80s and early ’90s, in a sense– I think there
was an incredible complicity with citizens. The citizens were happy. But there was something
which, at the time, that there were not
so many tourists. It was amazing that every time
that a new park, a new plaza, a new whatever– a
new open space opened, it was incredibly packed, with
the neighbors enjoying that. And there was– Of course there was criticism. Of course there were things. They had been part of
the voice, but there was a very strong
leadership at the time. I mean political leadership. And also something
that, right now, almost sounds very strange,
but the role of architects. But, in a sense, the
transformation of Barcelona was done by architects, quite–
in terms of the design, which is only one component but
[INAUDIBLE] definitely the designs of the squares
and the parks and the gardens or whatever were
done by architects, and most of the planning
was done by architects. And architects, at the time,
had an incredible prestige. Which, surprisingly,
was well beyond, like, in many other places–
well beyond that of engineers, like, well beyond
other practices. There was a certain
level of trust. We have lost that
trust, quite clearly. And now, obviously– and
we’re trying to reimagine. I think we’re living a
very interesting moment in Barcelona, right now,
because they’re trying to, after a few years
of disengagement with the citizens, that
citizens for many years were almost considered consumers
or clients or something like that. And I think now
there’s a process which is very interesting which is
trying to find another voice. Which is not the traditional
participation, but other modes, to try to express that voice. Perhaps you can
elaborate on that. I don’t want to be taking
too much time on that. Two thoughts on that. One, really through professional
practice, and the various modes of engagement that
have emerged– recently and, I’d say, over the last few
decades– in ways that really give citizens much more of
a voice in public projects– or even private projects,
or having influence over private projects. In some ways, this
might have come out of a backlash against modernism,
in the way in which projects in the modern era would
completely renovate districts of the city without any kind
of public conversation about it and, of course, displaced
all sorts of people from their neighborhoods
and communities. But recently, within
public practice, there are other forums of
simply engaging with people and learning from
the knowledge base that citizens on the street,
citizens in communities, have that architects
working in those communities or designers working in
those communities don’t have. And so we find much more
interactive forms of engagement that allow– So it’s not a meeting
setting, where we’re asking you
questions and you’re intellectualizing an answer. It’s finding ways to let
people’s guard down and really allow them to find
quiet moments to be able to share their really
deep knowledge about places. But, on the other hand,
beyond the profession itself, I think social media has
had a huge impact, in terms of changing the voice,
or voices, that inform any number of conversations. And so, already before
we engage a project, there may be a host of
social-media outlets, social-media conversations,
that are happening already that we can tap into and
learn from and really begin to understand the kind
of social context of a project before even starting. I think, going back to your
question about the research, I feel the research
is something that should be always very present,
also, in– at the university, and mainly on the professional
type of university. Because we know that
research is very difficult to– that our
job could be [INAUDIBLE]. Otherwise, it tend to be– Today, I think the capacity
is that all the computers and digital media give to
us, that allows us to do more research than before. I think this is the
power that we have today. We can invest more in research
and checking the things, doing also a test of
the things we produce. And I think this is what
probably is so important today, and the change of the way that
the projects and the design and the research can be done. But the question is
that, in the end, after the research
in our field, I feel we have to be
responsible that– we have to be able to explain easily. I think people has
the right to know why these things are proposed. They have the
right to understand and to say yes or no.
[INAUDIBLE] and that is, in the end, I think
the power of the design is that you can
enter into really a quite black-box system. But in the end you have
to exit with something that should be very clear. And that people could say
it’s too high, to low. For instance, today,
the media, if you ask in a conversation,
the media, are you in favor of tall
buildings or low buildings? The answer is very
clear– low buildings. But if we want to address
the sustainable issues, we have to change our mind. We have to create
research that proves that intermediate and higher
densities are much better for the sustainable city. But that is changing
the paradigm. Until now, let’s say, the
Modern movement create the idea that low density was better. And that we propagate
this system. The buildings that they
are leaving more space, no matter what is the use
of the space, are better. And then we discover that
this is space without any use. They are full of garbage, they
are difficult to maintain, Nobody can use, they’re
unsafe– all these things. Now we have to
create new paradigms. That is why I feel. Experimental projects
are so required today, to create new solutions
and new paradigms, so that people can
understand and can share and then can discuss. Well, I have one more
question, and then we’ll open out to the audience. And I just want to
pick up on points both of you made– the idea
of social media or technology. Joan, when you gave
your presentation, you said you could
hardly imagine that Cerda was able to
do the research he did without having Google to be able
to take the picture from above. And when I was thinking
more about the exhibition and your presentation,
and even our field here at the– all
the work that’s done on the GSD– I think
what technology has done is made it possible
to see models of other places, iconic
architecture, visually beautiful places,
and extract them from the reality of the place. Our students are up
there all the time, going through the computer
and finding a possible model, but they’re really extracting
them out of thin air. So my question– but then,
on the other hand– oh, so it’s easy, then, to
try to impose a model, because you’ve seen
it somewhere and it might work without a deep
understanding of whether it will be relevant in the place. On the other hand, Chris
mentioned the importance of social media for
mobilizing citizens, to be able to respond. So I see it as kind of
a Janus-faced change in our field. And I just wanted to know a
little more from each of you about, where do you think
technology fits in now in your discipline, with respect
to translation or knowledge transfer or research, in
order to kind of bridge the gap between general
ideas and the specificity of a project? In some ways, the example you
give of the taking of an image and borrowing it in a
way and incorporating it into the project is really
the transfer of that image. It’s not a transfer
of knowledge. Right? I think, as in some ways
we’ve all been saying, that transfer of knowledge,
translation of knowledge, has a lot to do with modes of
thinking, modes of research, modes of working, and then
somehow reinterpreting that or translating it
for a particular context and possibly using new tools. And so, you know, for me,
the question of technology isn’t how– isn’t– the
aim is not to find the most superficial way to do it but
to use the technology to create new knowledge, to create new
perspectives, to use– I mean, there’s an incredible amount
of data that’s available to us now. And one of the challenges
of data and technology is to sift your way through it
and interpret it or reinterpret it and apply it to a
specific set of events. To do that, you have
to edit it down. And you have to take
a position on some of what you’re
collecting, in order to apply it to the task at hand. So I think there are
challenges, but it’s a matter of sifting
through it, to use the technology creatively
and critically, as you begin to apply it towards
research– either research based in a kind of academic
practice or research based on the ground. I would say [INAUDIBLE]
responding frankly to what you’re asking, but that
the notion of direct transplant of some models of
somewhere else can be, I think, at
least pedagogically and in the design
practices, a mode of design. And I think you can
test it in a– I guess now we could use many words. So that’s why I think
that could be a longer conversation–
about translation, about transferability,
about transplant. When you just
transplant, for instance, you can think also [INAUDIBLE]
in medical terms, the heart transplant, or
something like that. In a sense, there can be
rejection by the body. [INAUDIBLE] have to prepare. And actually just testing that. I think, for me, a technology
and wisdom and the knowledge that we can elaborate has
more to do not so much with that process– which
I think, to some extent, we can borrow– and everyone
borrows from other ideas. And actually we always
build in previous knowledge. But I think that what we can
take advantage of right now is in new forms of assessment. And I would say that the
research that we have to do is finding ways of assessing
the decisions that we make, whether certain things can
work in a different context, whether it’s a physical
contact, it’s a social context, it’s a– and how do
we really assess them? And I think that’s where we
sometimes have difficulty in focusing the conversations. And that, for me, would be
the most interesting way of using those tools, in order
to improve or at least share some modes of assessment
for those movements of ideas and objects
[INAUDIBLE] sometimes. Only to add that I
think technology today give us a lot of capacity to
develop different strategies. Sometimes, we said
today, when we study one fragment
or one city, we say, well, we discover
that it’s very complex. And we said, then
it’s very difficult. But then we have techniques
to enter into that. But I’m wondering
how, 50 years ago, how they were doing
schemes for a city with the knowledge they have. And they were able to
do these type of things. Today, it seems that the
situation is more complex. No, the situation is as
complex as it was before. But they were
enabled to understand the level of complexity. And, in a certain way, I
feel today we are much, much better [INAUDIBLE]. And then we have– And that’s the reason that
I think research can set up certain type of principles. And these principles
could be better than the dogmatic principles
that the previous generation was working in the cities. And they were very
straight, and they were knowing the way of doing. But that’s the zest
of being great. Today, we can move
back and forth. And I think this is what makes,
probably, the type of research and the work we can
do at the university, or even in the field,
could be much richer, because we have a
capacity of feedbacking. Today, you can
change– if you do a large piece of architecture
or a big master plan for a city, you can change, and, in
hours, you can recycle that. But probably 20 years ago,
only, you were enabled to do, because you were
enabled to [INAUDIBLE]. And then you say,
OK, go with that, because we cannot change it. We have to build. I think this capacity of
feedback is incredible. I feel that we should be
completely sure that we are moving in the right direction. But I think Chris is right,
that– not because we have this amount of information
means that we are able to interpret it properly. I think this is where
research comes up, in a way. The way that we can make
the right [INAUDIBLE], and we are able to
communicate that. I’m really scared
with this idea– I insist on that– the black box. To imagine that our
job is something that we know that–
the way of doing, and the rest should
follow our advice. No. We have to be able to
prove in what sense that can be beneficial. And we have to test. And the people has to be able
to test and to say, no, this is too much, or this is too low. [INAUDIBLE] But I think, technology–
we are now– and probably the new generation,
the incoming students, they are going to have
a privileged condition, because it’s time. The way, the techniques we
are using, are fabulous. They are extraordinary. But, the same times, we
have to prevent that– I think your example
is very good. An image doesn’t make a project. An image is an image. A project is
something different. We have to be able to make and
to explain why we use that. But the images are
always referenced that we have in mind. And that’s– [INAUDIBLE]. That’s the thing. There are opportunities to be
very playful and experimental with technology,
using technology for purposes other than those
that it was intended for. I think there are
opportunities to do that, at a place like this, to kind
of covert certain software programs to make them do things
that maybe someone hadn’t originally intended them. And, through that, to find
new ways of working, new ways of thinking about the world. Why don’t we open it
out, if– are there any questions from the audience? We have at least 10 minutes,
if there are questions for Joan or any of the other panelists. Nobody yet? [INAUDIBLE] Thank you. Hi. Thanks very much. That was very– Barcelona’s
obviously one of those cities that you hardly ever forget. It may have been an accident
of short presentations, but curiously all
three of them seemed to have the public outdoors. And I was thinking of–
there was a Harvard Design Magazine of some years ago,
called “What About the Indoors” or “What About the Inside?” And I think the
idea that the public is outdoors tends to privilege
the public as a crowd, or rather than the
city, as something– I mean, I don’t know if
there’s anything purely private in the city. I mean, a family house,
a living room, is public. And so on it goes. And I just– It’s obviously much more
difficult to present as an image and
requires a different– but you– people say grid for
Cerda and grid for New York. And it’s not just a difference
between Americans and Catalans that is making the difference. There is a depth
to the Cerda block that isn’t present in
the New York block, or it has to be
done vertically– so on and so forth. And I just wonder if
that was an accident, or if it is actually
much too difficult to present, except as some
sort of cutaway [INAUDIBLE] that nobody can understand. No, I think I tried,
in my presentation, to precisely discuss
this boundary and precisely express
it as a continuity, but obviously it was
very, very, very quick, and it didn’t make any sense. But I think your point goes
beyond what we did or we didn’t. I think it’s a very
interesting point. And I think that,
not only– of course, there’s a certain idea of the
interior that can contribute to the understanding of
the essence of a place and its potential for
transformation and its [? life. ?] But I think–
something even more interesting. I think we can clearly think
of an idea of interiority, which is also in outdoors. And I think it’s– So there’s this discussion
between interior and interiority [INAUDIBLE]
also at one of the symposia, here, a few months ago. I think it’s relevant, in
that sense, because it’s not such a clear boundary. And by “interiority,” I mean a
certain level of subjectivity and a certain level
of understanding the domesticity of life. And I think the boundaries
are much more sophisticated, and precisely that’s why you
have a particular interest, not just because of the
not even polemics but the interesting
[? precisely ?] that another form of
conversation or transfer between things would be these
thresholds between architecture and the city. But those thresholds,
I think, for me, are also particularly
suitable and particularly precise in discussing that. But I think that’s
very difficult, also, to present quickly
with slides, but I think it is a conversation
we should have at some point. Either of you want
to respond to that? Or are there any
other questions? Do you want to respond to
the interiority question? Well, I don’t know whether
there are many questions where we think and where we wait. I think that, no,
we didn’t really– at least so far– address
frontally the notion of transferability. And I think it’s
really not only– and that could be a good excuse
of the Barcelona experience. I try to not use the Barcelona
model metaphor, because– But really
transferability of ideas, whether they’re urban
or whether they’re not, in across time and place. But really, once again, time. I think we always
learn from things, from previous experiences. But even some ideas that
were suitable for Barcelona 25 years ago don’t work
in Barcelona anymore. So it’s not just
about a place– not what Barcelona can do
for London and what Barcelona can do
for [INAUDIBLE], but also what we can do. But I think, precisely
in this idea of time, I wanted to say something,
and particularly to incoming students. I think that– perhaps
it didn’t come through so far, in the
presentation today, but I think the GSD is living
a very interesting moment, in terms of– it has been
for the past few years– in that I feel that,
more than ever, or at least more than
in the past 50 years, here at the GSD, the
three departments– urban planning and
design– it seems to have that as its own right. But the Architecture department
and the Landscape Architecture department are claiming the
city, in a very strong way, as a territory of work. Not that long ago,
architects seemed to be claiming buildings and not
really– landscape architects seemed to be climbing open
space, gardens, parks, and so on, and so forth. But I think right now–
and that, I think, would force us to not only
speak of transferability but to really explore
a little bit more what is the actual essence of
each one of the disciplines, so that we can contribute
in a different way to the transformation
of the city. It’s what occurred to me during
your discussion of the Nolli map, in fact– this
incredible sequence of outdoor spaces, threshold
spaces, interior spaces, even down to the
individual stairwell that then made a connection
through to a series of other spaces. And that the city is really
a collection or a sequence of projects and
spaces that have been designed by multiple
entities but work as a kind of collectivity. Some of those done
by architects, some of those done by
landscape architects, others informed by the work of
urban designers and planners. And, in many ways, kind of
brought home just this point you’re making, how we’re very
much in a mode of rediscovering the city and how
the city has become the common starting point for
conversation and collaboration, here at the school. Because probably– and
I think your question is pertinent in that
I think probably the rediscovery of the
city has been done very much through the public space. [INAUDIBLE] I mean,
even today, you can see in places
like Shanghai, places with fantastic speed of
growth, but still they discover that the space– these
are the spaces the one that can create quality for
everybody, in a certain way, yeah? And of, course, I think probably
next step is going to be, once the public space
is really properly feature, how that will inform
also the way that architecture and this space that is within
the private realm, that can be also better used. I think this is–
because, in fact, we discover that
today, what happened is that a great part
of the project– not only to talk about
Barcelona– I think this is Europe, but I think you,
Chris, you show also how important this influence
also is in America, in general– not only in the
United States, but in Canada, as well. That the people
[INAUDIBLE] also motivated to discover that this space
can be beneficial for them. And also in terms
of economy, as well, and because that
creates activity, creates [? tourists, ?]
create other type of business. You know, that, before, they
were fully inside the mall. And that, I think, is something
that is going to change. But I feel this, fortunately
or unfortunately, and that is something that is
good for our future students, that that’s the reason
that, when we said, it is a model– is not a model. I don’t like the word “model,”
because a “model,” for me, is something that is rigid. There are not many models
that they are able to– But they are patterns
that you can use that you can apply their references. But attention that these
reference in 10 years will be old-fashioned-
could be completely out. [INAUDIBLE] That is what we have to learn. Why? Because the culture and our
urban culture, it’s changing. It’s changing dramatically. You know, the issues
about the ecology, the energy– all these
things are very important. But we have to learn how that we
shape that into the projects– how we shape into a city. And that is probably the
role of a school like this. And, in a way, in what
sense we can inform– we can produce models
and experiments for this. Eh? Yeah, I mean, if I wanted to
make a few final comments about what I think we didn’t
get to in this panel– so, next time around– [INAUDIBLE] Oh, I’m sorry. Oh, OK. [INAUDIBLE] Oh, somebody’s– wait. Someone’s coming
with a microphone. [INAUDIBLE] Um– can you turn around? Right there. Something– perhaps you
were going to mention this. But something that
we haven’t discussed, here– all these
visions are amazing. And Barcelona is amazing. And the idea of having a vision
like [? Cervas ?] or even like what happened
before the Olympics, of architects getting
together and dialoging. But we have a problem
now, in cities, you know, and especially in
the big cities, and even here in Cambridge,
the seat of GSD– that the design is
not being considered– not for five years,
not for 10 years, definitely not for 100 years. It’s driven by speculation,
by development, and the visions of
public-private space aren’t even considered. What’s being considered is, how
much money can we get per foot? And how can we
make this cheaper? And us people who live
here, who walk here, we’re seeing all our fabric of
quality completely destroyed. And so what is the role
of you folks, up there? I come here a lot. I speak to many of you a lot. I’m involved in an effort
called Our Harvard Square, which you’re all
welcome to join. How do you get involved with
the city, with the politicians, with the developers,
to help them understand how beneficially–
economically, politically, culturally, socially– it is
for them to work with architects and landscape designers? Well, maybe that–
that does kind of lead in to a little bit of what I
was going to put on the table. So thank you for doing that. I guess I wanted to
say, in response, the good thing, the
good news of the panel– and Carles underscored it–
was, in a way, the parsimony across the three
presentations, with everybody claiming the city and looking
at the design of the city. And you start to see the clear
conversation across the three disciplines, around Barcelona. But, as somebody– I don’t
work in the United States. I work in the developing world. If only the cities
in Latin America that I work in, or in India,
could look like Barcelona. So you start realizing, well,
what’s getting in the way? And it’s not just
knowledge and transfer. There’s power, and
there are institutions, and there’s money. And there are a lot of things
that mediate between the idea– the generation of
knowledge about what would be a good
transferability and what’s possible in the world. And so maybe I’d end
by saying that, as we look for convergence across the
disciplines, here at the GSD, there’s also an opportunity
to find skill sets in some of the disciplines that offer
answers to those questions. And I do think that
that’s something that we’re struggling with, in
the Urban Planning department. I know in Landscape
there’s more effort to bring those institutions
of power and governance. And even Joan himself
said that it’s about– those
successes in Barcelona had a lot to do with governance
and power and management, not just citizens
but also states. The legitimacy of architects
and designers is a part of it, but the strong
political relationships that were established
are also a part of that. And that’s something
that has not yet entered, I don’t think, yet, in
architecture or landscape– maybe not yet. And that’s something that we’re
going to be pushing forward more conversations like this, on
one the different disciplines, about how we can learn from
each other’s skill sets to continually produce better
designs and better cities. So it’s quarter of,
and I know there’s events for other people. And it’s been a long
day for everybody. Join me in thanking
Joan, Carles, and Chris for the presentation today. [APPLAUSE] Yes. Just another reminder about the
conference tomorrow morning. There are some posters around. Major experts in the
field of urban design, speaking not just
about Barcelona but the future of urban design. We have a series
of esteemed guests from Barcelona who’ll
be with us in the panel. And we hope as many of
you can come back here. We’ll be in Piper
at 9:00 AM tomorrow. 9:00 till 12– what–
till 1 o’clock. So please come join us tomorrow
to continue the conversation. [APPLAUSE]


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