Exhibition  Opinion 

Diagonal Magma

The Geological Collision of the City with the Sea

David Cohn 

While the Universal Forum of Cultures will disappoint those expecting to find a major concentration of stellar world architecture, or a new urban center on the scale of the Olympic Village, what it proposes is much more innovative and thought-provoking. In the first place, it is an architectural event conceived at the scale of the landscape, and of those large works of civil engineering that mold the landscape to human use, applying architectural means and values to shaping the otherwise instrumentally-determined territory of the urban periphery. Secondly, by incorporating a waste water treatment plant and other dirty infrastructures alongside its seaside recreational activities, it marks a radical advance in the breakdown of convention concepts of zoned land use and the stratified city, promoting in their stead a raw juxtaposition of the disparate activities and functions of the city as they accumulate in a single place over time. The Esplanade, seaside parks, marina and bathing areas of the Forum (as well as the Convention Center and Forum Building, it can be argued), must find their form through a process of wrestling with the intransigent elements of the site, including these hard industries, an encounter which deforms and contaminates them. The result is a departure from the careful “good taste” that has often limited the aesthetic ambition of Barcelona design, and an opening towards rougher, freer, more ludic and expressive forms that organize and focus the urban territory... [+]

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