Triptych of Intentions

Enric Batlle 

Living on the Edge

A flock of sheep grazes in a new public space of the Barcelona metropolis. We could think of it as a chance event, similar to those we sometimes observe in our peripheries, in those places where urban development has arrived but not settled to the extent of preventing ‘outer natures’ from entering the city.

The image can also be seen as another consequence of the economic crisis of the past years. The place was being developed with the purpose of building a business campus and residential neighborhood, but after the real estate bubble burst the project was set aside before anything was built. The streets and public spaces in the area were almost completed and in use, but because of this neglect they had received no maintenance for many years.

In her widely praised book Ruinas modernas. Una topografía del lucro, the Barcelona-based architect Julia Schulz-Dornburg gathers several examples of similar places, scattered throughout Spain’s geography. It is collection of unfinished residential developments that present three common characteristics: a vast size that in many occasions exceeds that of the urban core they depend on; an autonomous location that is conveniently detached from the existing city; and the intention of recreating a so-called ‘new paradise’ that, obviously, erases all the natural and agricultural features of the previous landscape...[+]

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