August 11, 2014

Barcelona 26: The Diagonal (5) – La Mina After

By the 1970s, La Mina had becomes a ‘sink estate:’ a fortress-like setting with enclosed streets, high densities and few services, poverty and self-perpetuating dysfunction, high crime and social fracturing – a spiral of decline that had to be broken.

By 2000,  as a consequence of social pressure and the major projects of Diagonal Mar and the Cultural Forum, over $50 million Euros became available; the money would be spent according to the “La Mina Transformation Plan” – social and physical interventions that aimed to lead to “complete normality.”

There are two goals: the first is to change the image of La Mina from the inside, and the second is to change the image from the outside.

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Social inclusion strategies were mainly labour-market integration programs, effective so long as there was a good economy.  The physical interventions were more specific:

  • Urban development of public spaces (e.g. new squares, streets, green areas)
  • Rehabilitating housing and improving access to buildings
  • Creating new social housing and introducing private housing
  • Providing better public transport connections to the metropolitan area of Barcelona
  • Physically upgrading the coastline.

Now, cycling around La Mina during the day (with little sense of threat or discomfort), the changes are apparent.

Some of the blocks-long housing projects of Mina Nueva are refurbished:

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The design and quality of the infill projects, public and private, are far better scaled:

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Likewise the provision of social and public services:

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The inclusion of public and park spaces that Barcelona is really good at – a new Rambla in particular (map here):

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And, to connect La Mina with the rest of the city, an extension of the tram line through the community, seen under construction:

La Mina - and tram construction

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 The La Mina plan is considered to be an expression of the Barcelona Model, depending on how you define it: ‘Change the area, change the people.’

A success?  Again, it depends on the assumptions.  Was it just to change the image, and who for?  And who benefits?

My sense is that the location of La Mina is one of its greatest assets, now that the city has come out to it and made an effort to integrate the people and connect the neighbourhood.  Yet it still does not feel a part of Diagonal Mar, the beachfront and the rest of Poblenou as it goes through its transformation as part of 22@Barcelona.  Maybe La Mina likes it that way.

More about 22@ later.

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Comments

  1. ” introducing private housing”

    isn’it the opposite direction Vancouver is taking for the DTES?

    You will find copycat of District like la Mina all over Europe, and it sounds like the sun or good location make them worst to stand!

    “good” public transit and all that has been tried…
    “good”: yes there is a tram, but many detour it does before reching the city center! better to steal a mopette!

    see for example the history of the Grenoble Olympic village utopia (serviced by tr tramway) , that ended up in ethnic riot…

    In my humble opinion, what is missing in your laundry list is jobs

    you show a picture of a 200 meters long building probably housing 1000 people- but how many jobs opportunity you can picture?

    those building forms (we call it “barre architecture” in french and that means the worst of the worst – here they block the view to the sea/mountain, Corviale in Roma is the epitome of i t- interestingly enough there is no wiki english page for it -… want to visit a friend, do you remember the number of the entrance staircase? … ) need to disappear…plainly and simply…and the higher visible structure shouldn’t be a waste management plant, but an office tower… as a minimum!

    then let discuss…all the rest will stay blahblah…

  2. Mies’ favourite planner, Hilberseimer, seems to have had a big influence over this kind of slabophilia public housing. His concepts for Chicago were equally monstrous in their soul-destroying placelessness.