Wednesday

Travel Spain. With Barcelona Architecture Walks through Barcelona and the Future


Spain is one of the easiest places in the world to travel to. Barcelona and probably also Madrid are on most people’s Spain itinerary. You plan a visit to Barcelona and created a list of things that you would love to see that includes: take photos of the Basilica Sagrada Familia, Casa Battlo and La Pedrera, drink Cortado on a tiny square in the Gothic Quarter, play princess in the fairy-tale like Park Guell, stroll crazy-busy La Rambla, eat and drink sumptuously on la Boqueria market, fill up your vitamin D levels on Barceloneta beach and get a contemporary culture-fix at the CCCB in Raval.




Poblenou also known as @22Barcelona the innovation district

If you are looking to discover the whole of Barcelona you need to see the geographic centre of Barcelona too. Miguel Angel, the founder of Barcelona Architecture Walks, and his team offer five different tours that allow locals and tourists to see the city through the eyes of an architect. One of the tours, Barcelona and the Future, leads through the geographic centre of town, through the Barcelona borough of @22, also known as the innovation district.

Barcelona Design Museum

I meet architect and tour guide Carola and the other guests, who are visiting from Australia and the US, right in the middle of Barcelona. As I said, Placa les Glories de Catalunya is the geographic centre of town but in reality this plaza has forever felt isolated from the rest of Barcelona. Over the centuries it never actually managed to become the centre in the true sense of the word. There were other squares more popular because more appealing to the by now 1.6 million inhabitants of Barcelona. This is a non-place, neglected in the past, a place that did not hold enough significance (other than being a traffic junction) to be referred to as a place.

Architects and urban planners might have felt sorry for it and also seen a chance to make their wildest dreams come true. With their ideas and knowledge they started guiding Barcelona and especially this quarter of town into a bright and shining future. 

Torre Agbar

It is good to know your roots

Carola fondly admits she is never happier than when talking and thinking about architecture and the members of the group all agree that if we are travelling to a place we want to learn about its heritage to understand the present and the future. This town had a thriving textile industry through the nineteenth and twentieth century, living conditions for factory workers were poor. We follow the dynamic developments of this part of Barcelona and stop at selected architectural examples.

Many of the buildings that are former industrial and commercial properties are now heritage listed and integrated perfectly into the new structures. It is so hard to believe that this area was simply abandoned industrial land until the town’s people re-discovered the area and began to live out their visions. The tour is packed with architectural stories. 

Urban planning in the innovation district @22Barcelona

Barcelona Design Museum and Sagrada Familia

Projects are carried out to have a positive impact on Barcelona. Architects, planners and the council work together to improve public spaces, introduction of better lighting, diversion of traffic to reduce noise and pollution, the widening of pavements to encourage a more outdoorsy- and community focused lifestyle. The concept of the Superblock, where the numbers of streets that cars can access is limited, stems from Barcelona, and you can see it ‘live and in colour’ in Poblenou. The aim is to make city blocks livable again, these days Barcelona’s air quality often rises above set EU safe levels.

There are more than 7,000 companies and shops with 90,000 workers in 22@. There are plenty of urban planning role models for other towns from around the world. It is all about social cohesion and sustainable planning, and social housing projects convince more and more people to choose to live in this part of town and not only work here. 

Walk through Poblenou

@22Barcelona: Old Supports New

Barcelona and the Future

A striking looking 38 storey skyscraper built by star architect Jean Nouvelle is what you see first when you walk towards @22. We find out why it is abandoned for the time being. The smell of Camomile is abundant on still unused land. We stroll through the Design Hub, covered in Alloy panels that houses a museum, a conference centre, workshops and a restaurant (I recommend having lunch here after the tour ends). At the University campus we learn how the city brings together knowledge and innovation and how the energy infrastructure connects @22 with the rest of town. 




The Architecture Tour You Want

Carola explains things in detail, and finds a way to do this apt even for non-architects. I loved that she took the time to explain Barcelona's role in Catalonia, in Spain and Europe and I walked away and felt that I got first-hand expert information about the future of Barcelona. Malcolm X was so right when he said “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” After the tour you will see that Barcelona is ready. 



Win two tickets for a 2.5 hour guided Barcelona Architecture Walk

Today I’m going to get you two tickets for a 2.5 hour guided architecture walk in Barcelona. Since I loved the tour so much Barcelona Architecture Walks was so lovely to sponsor two tickets for my readers. You can choose from five options - Barcelona and Urbanism - Barcelona and the Sea -Barcelona and Gaudi - Barcelona and the Market - Barcelona and the Future. The tickets are valid for one year from the date of issuing, and dates are subject to availability. The prize draw is open to every citizen from all over the world. The prize cannot be exchanged, refunded, sold or converted into a cash alternative.

I make this as easy as possible for you. To enter, you simply post an architecture themed photo in your timeline on Instagram using the hashtag #BCNArchitectureTheTouristin and explain briefly, in a few words, in the caption why you believe a guided architecture tour in Barcelona is a great thing to do. Entries close on Thursday, 18th May. I can’t wait to hear from you and to browse your photos and wish you the best of luck. 

Torre Agbar and view over Placa les Glories de Catalunya

Would you like to read more about Spain?

Barcelona

Madrid

Mallorca

Here you can find out more about Barcelona Architecture Walks and book tours online

From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.