Team Representative: Eduard Balcells (ES) – architect and urban designer; Associate: Honorata Grzesikowska (PL) – architect and urban designer
Travessera de les Corts 265 6º2ª esc. A, 08014 Barcelona – España
+34 934 304 071 - firstname.lastname@example.org – www.eduardbalcells.com
E. Balcells & H. Grzesikowska
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1. How did you form the team for the competition?
We had worked well together before, so we decided it would be good to team up to enter Europan 13.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: Adaptability through Self-Organization, Sharing and/or Project (Process)?
The main objective of our project was to take advantage of the strategic location as a boundary between the residential city and the productive city (port and logistics) by building on its recent manufacturing past. To this purpose, we accommodate adequate spaces for new urban manufacturing and compatible activities with housing within “Robust Plinths” that can support any desired “Living Topping” (housing, offices, hotels, etc). The proposal’s strategy is based on opening possibilities for flexibility and reversibility (adaptability) in the use of these “Robust Plinths”, therefore enabling productive activities that can employ neighbours and provide shared workspaces to link the existing community with new-coming residents.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The site’s mutation brings a great opportunity to give a unique identity to the neighbourhood by absorbing new uses while keeping some of its former industrial character. This is achieved by concentrating productive uses in spatially generous and multifunctional plinths.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
In an urban study we recently did, the topic was how to revitalize a decaying industry in a central location. It is not strictly the same issue, but we became sensitive to the importance of urban manufacturing to achieve social inclusion in a city, as manufacturing can provide comparatively good jobs for the people with less formal education. This is one of the reasons for which we propose to provide adequate spaces for productive activities that are compatible with other uses, like housing.
We have been influenced by the typical Barcelona’s Eixample collective house, which had a commercial/productive ground floor. Another project that inspired us was, in a much smaller scale than the original, the Finger Plan for Greater Copenhagen, where the landscape infiltrates through linear corridors until the centre of the city. Another inspiration is the typical warehouse, old or new, cheap or more elaborate, with its spatial generosity.
5. Today –at the era of economic crisis and sustainability– the urban-architectural project should reconsider its production method in time; how did you integrate this issue in your project?
The project sets the principle of “Living Toppings” on “Robust Plinths”, which is a very open rule that can provide coherence but also a great flexibility both morphologically and in the evolution of the project in time, according to the wishes of the different stakeholders.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
We won first prize in Barcelona in Europan 12, and it boosted our careers, gave our work great diffusion and encouraged us to enter the competition in this edition, which was fruitful.