After decades of urban crisis and terrible omens as to the uncertain future of the great metropolises, the recent phenomenon of resurgence and revitalization in certain urban centers – particularly London, Amsterdam, Boston, Los Angeles, New York and, in my opinion, Madrid and Barcelona – has quickly changed the priorities on researchers’, politicians’ and architects’agendas. The key question can no longer be made in the terms of Sert’s 1942 Can Our Cities Survive? Now we are interested in understanding what this unexpected ‘renaissance’ means and what objective conditions – geographic, economic or cultural – or urban planning policies can trigger it and make it last.
Madrid is frequently referred to as a “city without a project” or “city without a plan.” To my mind, both assertions are simplistic. The contemporary metropolis has no canonical shape, and the idea of a city project or regulated model, in the sense of traditional planning, only works on a microscale, representing instead an obstacle to the creation of efficient policies on a metropolitan scale. By saying this, I am not in any way defending submission to any hypothetical ‘fatal’ market trends, which are another very common sign of magical thinking, but rather the need to get rid of prejudices in order to decode the new methods of metropolitan organization to be able to formulate principles of territorial governance... [+]