Posted April 21st 2011 at 10:23 am by
in Public Space and Participation in Fort Pienc

Weeks 5-6: Public Space & Participation in Plaza Fort Pienc

In this post El Carrito meets its foe: a display announcing pre-planned public space. El Carrito is a mobile public participation cart that unfolds to reveal maps, models and drawing materials so that local people can describe what they want from their physical environment.

Public Space and Participation in Plaza Fort Pienc: Weeks Five and Six

El-Carrito with crowds — not only urban — information element in plaza.

On Thursday afternoon, El Carrito was not the only element vying for people’s attention in Plaza Fort Pienc. In the middle of the space, a three-dimensional display proclaimed the eventual launch of the new DHUB (Disseny HUB Barcelona) space in Plaza Glories, on the north-eastern limit of the neighborhood. The municipal plans for the reconstruction of Plaza Glories include the DHUB building scheduled to open in 2012.

The dialogue between metropolitan (global) and neighborhood (local) concerns  is poignantly evident in the project for Plaza Glories — its relationships to other buildings of national significance within Fort Pienc (especially L’Auditori and the National Theatre of Catalunya), and how these all relate back to the neighborhood.

Once school let out that day, however, the children were mainly concerned with transforming this display element into a place to play:

Public Space and Participation in Plaza Fort Pienc: Weeks Five and Six

Child-appropriate display for play.

The approved plans for Glories Plaza are mainly global in nature; they aim to position the area as a new metropolitan center. The plans show marginal attention to the adjacent neighborhoods on the new plaza’s peripheries.

Conversely, Raons Publiques continues its position of exploration within the neighborhood. While my observations of the activities ofRaons Publiques revolve almost entirely on the ground operations of El Carrito, there are many other activities that take place. Beyond El Carrito, Raons members continually meet with neighborhood organizations, interested supervisors at libraries, schools and other neighborhood institutions, and individual parties from fields as varied as architecture, education and sustainability who can help with this complex endeavor of exploring the social and spatial aspects of a neighborhood.

Claiming Space

In both the DHUB Display and our own model, the participating children have their own ideas of using space. They transform the DHUB Display into a hide-out fort, while they write their names and stake a claim to a piece of the neighborhood on the Fort Pienc model.

Today a little girl came to El Carrito, looked at the model, and proclaimed: “I know Oscar!”

Public Space and Participation in Plaza Fort Pienc: Weeks Five and Six

Kids’ flags.

On the Move

In order to diversify participation this week, we moved El Carrito a couple public spaces away from the main plaza to Antiga D’Horta Street. Like Ribes Street (which expands into Plaza Fort Pienc), Carretera antiga D’Horta (the ancient street D’Horta) is a remnant of an old village street that existed before the expansion of Barcelona in the mid-19th century. The old path is now a courtyard with several playground spaces. Unfortunately, there were few people to participate. One of the problems of participation is that some groups continue to be underrepresented: teenagers, young adults and members of the Chinese community, remain at large.

Public Space and Participation in Plaza Fort Pienc: Weeks Five and Six

El Carrito in Antiga D-Horta.

Note on week 5: Participation and Rain Don’t Mix

Raons Publiques and I went out with El Carrito on Monday and Thursday afternoons during Week Five (Monday, February 14 and Thursday, February 17, 2011) of Public Space and Participation in Fort Pienc. It rained on both days. On Monday, the people rushed passed us, even though we were strategically located under the overhang in Plaza Fort Pienc. Rain and participation don’t mix. We tried once more on Thursday to confirm the theory; it is now confirmed. And so, there were no photos (rain and cameras also don’t mix) and not much news from El Carrito until the sun began to shine once more.

Post and images by Claudia Paraschiv. For more information on her work in Barcelona, read her blog,

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