6th International Architecture Congress of Pamplona: The City We Want


For three days, from 8 to 10 September, the Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad held its sixth congress at the Navarrese capital’s Baluarte convention center. Titled ‘The City We Want,’ it brought in figures from different disciplines to reflect on and offer solutions to the challenges that the future of cities poses, considering aspects like ecology, sustainable mobility, social equity, health, and the wellbeing of public spaces.

The event kicked off with the appearance on screen, via streaming, of the 2021 Pritzker laureate Anne Lacaton, who defended people’s right to ample spaces within the home. Day 1 also featured the architect Dietmar Eberle, who called for reinvention of the house to make its rooms more flexible use-wise, minimize production and maintenance costs, keep the density of cities at bay, and ensure sustainable development. The economist Philipp Rode defined the post-car city, and Miguel Anxo Fernández, Mayor of Pontevedra, presented the results of the Galician city’s plan to curb wheeled traffic.

Day 2 began with the congress director, José María Ezquiaga, centering on the need to share the city’s resources and spaces, and on how the pandemic has put health and safety at the top of the list of priorities for the urban environment. The architect Fabienne Hoelzel showed her endeavors in Africa, ranging from portable toilets to the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Regeneration Plan (Nigeria). The Columbia University professor Feniofsky Peá-Mora, former Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, shared the experience of ongoing programs in neighborhoods there, highlighting the importance of respecting the cultures of different communities when carrying out urban interventions. Rafael Fernández Valverde, a magistrate in Spain’s Supreme Court, reflected on legislation for public works and on the bond between architecture and law. The sociology chair and CSIC professor María Ángeles Durán laid down a city model that addresses social diversity and the situation of disadvantaged groups, children, and the elderly. Joan Clos, president of Ascal and ex-director of ONU-Habitat, offered a historical view and deliberated on health in urban planning and governance. And Daniel Ibáñez, architect and researcher at Harvard, talked about his experiments in building with Km0 materials and processes. The sociologist Saskia Sassen did not participate, as programmed, in the second-day round of conferences.

On Day 3, the architects Pablo Martínez and Mar Santamaría of the firm 300.000 Km/s showed how comprehensive analysis of city data can determine urban policies. Francisco Muñoz, geographer and director of the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Urbanization Observatory, discussed his thesis on urban space as a territory for conflict-management and consensus, posing the question of whether architecture has the potential to modify human behavior. The economist Carlos Solchaga, who was Spain’s Minister of Economy and Finance and is president of the Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad, spoke on cities as engines for economic recovery. To close, Mohan Munasinghe, recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, connected from Sri Lanka to examine the transformation towards sustainable and climate-resistant cities.

The institutional closure of the 6th International Architecture Congress in Pamplona was attended by Raquel Sánchez Jiménez, Minister of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Agenda; José Luis Arasti Pérez, Government Representative; María Chivite Navascués, President of the Government of Navarre; and Enrique Maya Miranda, Mayor of Pamplona.

The Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad was formed in 2008 on the initiative of Francisco Mangado. The themes of its first five congresses, directed by Luis Fernández-Galiano, were: ‘More for Less’ (2010), ‘The Common’ (2012), ‘Necessary Architecture’ (2014), ‘Change of Climate’ (2016), and ‘Less Architecture, More City’ (2018).

All the sessions of the three-day congress can be viewed here.

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