Infrastructure under Transformation as Spaces of Collectivities. Glòries, Barcelona, Spain

Research output: PhD thesisResearch external, graduation external


Within ci􀆟 es, one can detect dynamics and spa􀆟 al quali􀆟 es that interact over 􀆟 me. This is par􀆟 cularly
interes􀆟 ng when collec􀆟 ve spaces are incorporated in infrastructure under transforma􀆟 on. This PhD-research
inves􀆟 gates the emerging and temporal quali􀆟 es of those collec􀆟 ve spaces. They are embedded as part of the
complex spa􀆟 al dynamics of urban interac􀆟 ons. Collec􀆟 ve spaces is a spa􀆟 al category that bridges the public
and the private spaces, incorpora􀆟 ng unexpected quali􀆟 es in the city. In 􀆟 mes of long-term transforma􀆟 on of
infrastructure, collec􀆟 ve spaces with specifi c quali􀆟 es are o􀅌 en generated. They possess the capacity to change
rapidly and unpredictably. Although this makes categorisa􀆟 on diffi cult, it is an interes􀆟 ng phenomenon. In this
PhD-research, they are referred to as ‘spaces of collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es’ that have only been partly inves􀆟 gated. This PhDresearch
seeks to produce new insights on those urban spaces of collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es related to infrastructure under
transforma􀆟 on. The inves􀆟 ga􀆟 ons focus on those complex spa􀆟 al dynamics of urban interac􀆟 ons anchored
in changes and temporal arrangements, in non-tradi􀆟 onal conjuga􀆟 ons of spaces, as well as in boundaries,
and territories. Unexpected no􀆟 ons of proximity, permeability, and cri􀆟 cal boundaries are evaluated. This is
accomplished through specifi c dimensions (‘expecta􀆟 ons’, ‘materialisa􀆟 ons’ and ‘appropria􀆟 ons’), ar􀆟 cula􀆟 ng
how they are manifested and interact over 􀆟 me. The concept of collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es on the one hand and the concept
of infrastructure on the other hand, are iden􀆟 fi ed as important urban elements that are able to ar􀆟 culate new
levels of complexity in contemporary ci􀆟 es around them. The temporal component is crucial. This is facilitated
through the process of transforma􀆟 on in infrastructure, and by the intermi􀆩 ent, and dynamic nature of spaces of
collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es.
The case study under inves􀆟 ga􀆟 on is Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, or shorter Glòries, in Barcelona, Spain.
It is an area that was (and is up to today) for many decades under constant transforma􀆟 on. Originally conceived
as the centre of the Extension Plan (1859), it was never completed, and has since then been a constant part of the
changing discussions in Barcelona on infrastructure and urban centrality. A􀅌 er being a car-oriented open-space
based on a variety of spa􀆟 al manifesta􀆟 ons, now undergoes a transforma􀆟 on into a park. This case captures a
great variety of symbolic, physical, and social manifesta􀆟 ons that are strongly linked to dominant expecta􀆟 ons,
pending implementa􀆟 ons, and confl ic􀆟 ve appropria􀆟 ons. Today, this infrastructure-based open space is turning
into a formalised urban complex that will simplify urban complexity, and this risks overwri􀆟 ng present variety,
leaving li􀆩 le space to alterna􀆟 ve urban processes.
To achieve insights on infrastructure under transforma􀆟 on as spaces of collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es, the case of Glòries
is tackled from three dimensions defi ned as ‘expecta􀆟 ons’, ‘materialisa􀆟 ons’, and ‘appropria􀆟 ons’. This guides the
methodology as well as the PhD-research structure. In addi􀆟 on to this, special a􀆩 en􀆟 on is given to the rela􀆟 ons
between central and marginal actors and the implica􀆟 ons of mul􀆟 ple scales. The research is executed by diverse
research ac􀆟 vi􀆟 es and work-packages where mapping, graphic explora􀆟 ons, and wri􀆩 en argumenta􀆟 on are
intertwined. A􀅌 er sta􀆟 ng the theore􀆟 cal posi􀆟 on and inputs (Chapter 1), a broad historical overview of Glòries
inves􀆟 gates the processes in 􀆟 me from its concep􀆟 on up to 2015 (Chapter 2). Then, the focus delves into the
contemporary processes of Glòries in the period of 2015 to 2019 (Chapters 3 to 5). Each of these chapters unveils
condi􀆟 ons which originate from each dimension (Chapter 3 ‘expecta􀆟 ons’; Chapter 4 ‘materialisa􀆟 ons’ and Chapter
5 ‘appropria􀆟 ons’). They are linked to inter-temporali􀆟 es, inter-spa􀆟 ali􀆟 es, and inter-territoriali􀆟 es. Through these
inves􀆟 ga􀆟 ons, it is illustrated that spaces of collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es are transversal to them. The main fi nding of this PhDresearch
on infrastructure under transforma􀆟 on as spaces of collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es, illustrates how infrastructure under
transforma􀆟 on assists in the ac􀆟 va􀆟 on of complex spa􀆟 al dynamics, crea􀆟 ng spaces of collec􀆟 vi􀆟 es as intermi􀆩 ent
condi􀆟 ons of urban spaces that defy the o􀅌 en-used spa􀆟 al categories.
Keywords: urban design, architecture, socio-spa􀆟 al analysis, collec􀆟 ve spaces, temporali􀆟 es-spa􀆟 ali􀆟 esterritoriali
􀆟 es.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Department of Architecture
  • Leuven, Katholieke, Supervisor, External person
Award date27 Apr 2021
Place of PublicationBrussels
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2021


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