Thursday, June 29, 2006

Barcelona - it'll be nice when it's finished.

I used to do that "joke" about London when I first moved down here, in reference to the amount of building work that's always going on. And I did it again when I was in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago.

I haven't been there for about 20 years, so obviously it's changed rather a lot. The Gaudi cathedral still isn't finished - maybe stop having a siesta and work on the interior when it gets too hot to work outside, just a suggestion - but what has happened to the East of the city is incredible.

"Incredible" in terms of how much they've knocked down, rebuilt and "regenerated", not in any architectural terms. Don't get me wrong, there's some delightful stuff on the seafront - including one arch that looks like a shoal of fish - but some of it is quite hideous. No, hideous is too strong a word. Dull. That's more like it.

And it's a double shame because they're knocking down fantastic traditional buildings - mainly housing - to build bland commercial units, mass housing projects and 4* hotels that could be from anywhere in the world. Something they wouldn't even consider doing in the Gothic quarter, Las Ramblas, or any of the old town. So why knock down the areas they have?

Maybe it was all owned by the city, and it was cheaper to develop there because all they had to do was kick out the people who rented and sell the land to developers who would build apartments those same people would never be able to afford to live in. Long sentence, sorry. I do that when an idea comes to me halfway through writing something else.

And it leads me to something else. Something I'm going to put in a separate post, or this is going to be epic.


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