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Challenges of the low-density city



Free with pre-booking

In this seminar, we will explore the complexity of the low-density city in Catalonia, from its American suburban influence to the territorial and social vulnerabilities it faces in the current context.

The urban sprawl and residential specialization of a large part of the Catalan territory certainly responds in part to a growing adoption, over decades, of a lifestyle and an imaginary typical of the American suburbs.

However, the phenomenon of urban growth, especially low-density growth combined with the prevalence of second homes, responds to many, very diverse influences. Factors as varied as an uneven terrain, the structural crisis of the primary sector, the entrance of venture capital into real estate management, water shortages, and the risk of wildfires all coexist today in cities that we cannot call purely suburban, precisely because of their complexity and their varied manifestations across the territory.

From the ski areas in Vall d’Aran to the holiday towns in the Baix Ebre region, and from the residential developments in the Ordal mountains to the riverbanks of the Vallès, we can see that low-density urban areas, in all their forms and functions, require ongoing, tailored attention from the public administration.

These debates are intended to highlight the vulnerabilities and the social and territorial challenges facing these urban fabrics in our present context, as well as investigating some management methods.

Thursday 2 May

9.30 – 10.00 a.m.
Francesc Muñoz. Department of Geography, Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Josep Báguena. Head of analysis and spatial planning at the Barcelona Provincial Council.

10 – 11.30 a.m.
Housing Market, Household Formation, and Reinforcement of the Suburban Movement
Moderator: Clara Blanchar. El País journalist and specialist in questions of urban planning, social movements, and housing.
Antoni Lopez-Gay. Researcher at the Centre for Demographic Studies and lecturer in the Department of Geography at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).
Sergio Porcel. Researcher and researcher at the Institut Metròpoli at the UAB where he heads the area of Social and Urban Cohesion.

12.00 noon – 1.30 p.m.
Deficits, Challenges, and Trends of a Consolidated Urban Planning Model
Moderator: Josep Báguena. Head of analysis and spatial planning at the Barcelona Provincial Council.
Joan López Redondo. Member of the GURB study group on Energy, Territory, and Society of the Geography Department of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).
Lorena Perona. Head of Urban Strategies of the Urban Planning Department at the Barcelona Provincial Council.

Registration for the seminar includes access to the public event Suburban Catalonia which is to be held at 6.30 p.m. in the Mirador at the CCCB. Participating are Oriol Nel·lo, Helena Cruz, and Jorge Dioni with Antoni Ribas Tur as moderator.

Friday 3 May

10.00 – 11.30 a.m.
The Tourist Suburb: Second Homes, Labour Nomadism, and Marginal Settlements
Moderator: Albert Arias. Department of Geography, University of Barcelona.
Isabelle Anguelovski. Researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Dani Guillem. Journalist and creator of the podcast on the world of motor homes, InSedentarios.

12 noon – 1.30 p.m.
Between the Climate Emergency and a Purported Hope
Moderator: Irene Navarro. Environmentalist. Coordinator of the Technical Office of the Barcelona Metropolitan Strategic Plan.
David Saurí. Professor of Human Geography at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Mònica Carrera. Architect and expert on urban design and public space.
Lidón Martrat. Coordinator at the Oficina Alimentació Sostenible (Sustainable Feeding Office).


3.30 – 5 p.m.
Agendas and Strategies for Addressing a Suburban Model
Moderator: Francesc Muñoz. Department of Geography at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Sarai Samper. Founder of the D-Cas Social Analysts Collective.
Roger Sauquet. Architect and lecturer at the Vallès School of Architecture (ETSAV) of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.
Jordi Boixader. Head of the Economic Development Innovation Section of the Barcelona Provincial Council.

5 – 5.30 p.m.
Closing session

This project is co-organised by the Barcelona Provincial Council and the CCCB.

Related contents

See all the content

Between the Climate Emergency and a Purported Hope

David Saurí, Mònica Carrera, Lidón Martrat and Irene Navarro

Watch the video

Agendas and Strategies for Addressing a Suburban Model

Sarai Samper, Roger Sauquet, Jordi Boixader and Francesc Muñoz

Watch the video

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