Barcelona and the Satellite City Rethinking Growth: Hyper-Density and Relational Equilibrium Jennifer Chen, Liam Young and NMBW Queensland Office
The brief for the 2003–2004 Quaderns ideas competition, to which this work responds,
noted an “interest in addressing issues of what housing does rather than what housing should be like.” The AA Prize jury responded to both the sophistication of the organizing logic and the dexterity of the design hand. The proposal structures a large urban swath on Barcelona’s periphery by interweaving models of what a productive landscape (as much as an active urbanism) might be. It tests a series of intricately interconnected speculations, working through urban and architectural scales, and reflects on social, economic and environmental registers. The jury particularly enjoyed the team’s understanding of the unbuilt project as a vehicle for design research.
With the cross-programming of the blocks and their intricate programmatic connections with the podium and the landscapes, the work immediately struck the jury. It works intelligently across scales, with a strong sense of quality and commitment. It is distinguished by its intricacy and complexity – it is much more than the one-liner too often associated with speculative work or the unbuilt genre. The “relational equilibrium” comes from a frank engagement with the complex issues of housing for 400,000, and the exploration of the potential for civic and urban invention – aspects that are too often buried under carnival-esque spectacle or overly burdensome demographics. While the deep sections into the underground podium spaces caused some discussion and concern, this compelling and broadly scaled architectural response to “what housing can do” impressed the jury. This provocative scheme pulls together significant new ideas at the intersection of architecture, urban design and agriculture.