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09 / 09 / 2004
Acebillo, chief architect of the City Council of Barcelona: “Architecture is a way of promoting new economic activities”

During the dialogue “Cities and citizenship for the 21st century” the chief architect of the City Council of Barcelona and professor of the Università della Swizzera Italliana justified the urban project of the Besòs area where the Forum site is located and referred to “the need for major changes” that must be undertaken in all cities in order to create a tertiary sector in replacement of the disappearing industries

Josep Anton Acebillo, chief architect of the City council of Barcelona, in his address this afternoon in the second session spoke instead of the Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, who was unable to attend for health reasons.

Acebillo defended in his speech the urban project of Barcelona and stated that cities need major changes for economic reasons and criticized those “who are well established in the previous system and who offer great resistance to change.”

“This situation presents us with new and changing public spaces to which some sectors show reluctance,” said Acebillo who also highlighted the role of the City Council of Barcelona “that acted firmly in the ordering and planning of the urban transformation project of the area of the Besòs river.

Acebillo defended this process and linked it to the necessary economic transformation that needs to take place in cities, and which in the case of Barcelona resulted in the 22@ district and “its replacement of industrial activity, something necessary for our children to live on.”

The architect justified the restructuring of the area of the Forum Barcelona 2004, “to order many things as the building of the water treatment plant, the design of a port in Sant Adria del Besòs and a university campus” without denying “its considerably complicated and expensive nature” that helps project the image of Barcelona. Acebillo Acebillo criticized those who question the project as a model or in terms of esthetics when the really important thing is “to establish processes to exist conventionally when in reality cities find many ways around it.” He insisted on the idea on “the difficulty of making changes” but he regretted the fact that “non progressive culture” adopts “an inflexible stance”.

With regard to recent criticism by architect Oriol Bohigas to urban projects of the city such as diagonal Mar, Acebillo replied that most shopping malls are not properly built while he added that criticism should not rely on misinformation and ignorance. The chief architect of the City Council of Barcelona also made an appeal to stop criticizing high-rise buildings that often responds to the needs of specific activities.

According to Acebillo, efforts must be undertaken to transform “the remaining industrial spaces” into new neighborhoods and economic projects that enable the repopulation of these areas. Finally Acebillo announced that the transformation of Barcelona is not a unique process and that other cities must do the same before it is too late.