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CCCB Summer



Building the American Dream

Who hasn't longed for the American dream? A big house with a garden, a swimming pool and a couple of cars in the garage. A quiet, safe place to live as a family, close to nature in a people-friendly neighbourhood. This exhibition traces the cultural history of a lifestyle ideal that has been endlessly reproduced on television, in advertising and in cinema, and analyses the validity and the most controversial aspects of its urban planning model.

"Suburbia. Building the American Dream" draws us into the imaginary of the idyllic family home and shows how this lifestyle has been sold and promoted by fiction and the entertainment industry. The exhibition goes back to the origins of residential neighbourhoods in the early nineteenth century, explains how they developed massively in the 1950s, and reviews the economic, political and social context of their relentless expansion across the United States.

Now, when more and more families are pursuing their own version of the dream on the outskirts of cities, it is a good moment to analyse the contradictions of an urban planning model based on social, ethnic and gender segregation.

The dream of living in a house with a swimming pool is still very much alive today and has been exported all over the world. The exhibition shows the impact of this highly unsustainable model, based on constant car use, with examples of developments around Barcelona and Madrid.

With abundant historical material, period documentaries, photographs, paintings, films and series, novels and magazines, works of art and everyday objects, the exhibition places us in the mental paradise of the suburb and invites us to rethink the value of the city and public space today.

"Suburbia. Building the American Dream" presents the work of foremost creators who, from different points of view, help us to take a critical look at the famed American way of life: Jessica Chou, Gregory Crewdson, Thomas Doyle, Gerard Freixes, Rodrigo Fresán, Gabriele Galimberti, Weronika Gesicka, Benjamin Grant, Todd Hido, Joel Meyerowitz, Matthias Müller, Blanca Munt, Alberto Ortega, Bill Owens, Sheila Pree Bright, León Siminiani, Todd Solondz, Amy Stein, Greg Stimac, Angela Strassheim, Deborah Stratman, Ed & Deanna Templeton, Kate Wagner and Christopher Willan.

In addition, a selection of films related to the exhibition can be viewed on the Suburbia channel on Filmin (available to 8 September 2024).

Advisor: Francesc Muñoz

Curators: Philipp Engel

This activity is part of CCCB Summer

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Programme of activities

Espai B

An Artistic Space for Encounters and Experimentation

Exhibition images

Previous activities

"Suburbia" for people with blindness or low vision

Adapted guided tour

«Suburbia» for people with deafness

Guided tour with sign language interpretation service

Richard Ford

Traces of Happiness

Show more

A.M. Homes

Alienation in America

A morning with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Racism, resistance and reparation

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Who Has the Right to a House?

Museums' Day and Night 2024

Doors open to the exhibition "Suburbia", Poetry Slam and Anti-Gutter

Margaret Crawford

Rethinking Suburbia

The Pieces Speak

The exhibition "Suburbia" as seen by master’s degree students

Nathalie de Vries and Hans Ibelings

The Public Dimension of Architecture

Life in Europe’s urban sprawl


Challenges of the low-density city


Oriol Nel·lo, Helena Cruz, Jorge Dioni and Antoni Ribas

Suburbian Catalonia

Serielizados, Robin Green, Ainhoa Marzol and Enric Albero

The American Dream: a Trip accross TV Series

Guided visit to the "Suburbia.Building the American Dream" exhibition

"Suburbia" Opening Party

With music by Marc Foehn DJ

Organised by

With the support of