10.08.2023 Valentina Grossmann

Barcelona: Unesco World Capital of Architecture 2026

Barcelona. Urban Architecture and Community Since 2010, 330 pages, 30 projects, numerous drawings and photos, publishers: Heide Wessely, Sandra Hofmeister, Edition Detail, Munich, 2023

After Rio de Janeiro in 2020 and Copenhagen, Barcelona has now been named Unesco World Capital of Architecture for 2026. This distinction will offer the Catalan capital the opportunity to show the general public its contribution to sustainable development in architecture and urban planning.

Lacol’s La Borda is a reasonably priced cooperative building. © Institut Municipal de l'Habitatge i Rehabilitació de Barcelona

Sustainable urban development

According to Audrey Azoulay, General Director of Unesco, the city will demonstrate how architecture and culture can respond to current challenges in the interest of the common good and future generations. Even now, Barcelona is ahead of other cities when it comes to bold concepts that apply the principles of urban development and architecture to finding answers to the prevailing questions of our time. This is particularly apparent in the city’s handling of the climate crisis and in the realization of affordable, community-oriented living spaces.

Climate-friendly living

Barcelona struggles with unusually high temperatures and periods of extreme heat. It is not only the municipal government, but architectural studios as well that are taking an active approach to this problem with unconventional pilot projects. Since 2016, the administration’s Superblock initiative has been assuring traffic-calmed zones and better quality of life in densely built districts.

The La Balma cooperative building by Lacol + Laboqueria in Barcelona. © Milena Villalba

Fostering community

Quality of life in the lively city is also being promoted by the many sustainable communal buildings designed by young architecture studios. The Lacol architectural cooperative is finding ever more individual solutions for creating shared spaces from reasonably priced constructions and local, sustainable building materials. Lacol projects such as La Borda and La Balma highlight the cooperative lifestyle and focus on the most carbon-neutral energy supply. With the Casal Trinitat Vella, Haz Arquitectura have introduced a new building made almost entirely of wood, a project that asserts itself with an intelligent energy concept and social facilities for the residents of the barrio.

Residents meet in a communal area at La Balma, architecture: Lacol + Laboqueria. © Milena Villalba

In 2026, in collaboration with the Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España (CSCAE) and the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Cataluña (COAC), Barcelona’s municipal government is to organize a comprehensive program comprising events, exhibitions and activities that reflect the identity and sustainable urban development of the metropolis.

Barcelona. Urban Architecture and Community Since 2010, 330 pages, 30 projects, numerous drawings and photos, publishers: Heide Wessely, Sandra Hofmeister, Edition Detail, Munich, 2023

The book „Barcelona. Urban Architecture and Community Since 2010“, which was recently published by Edition Detail, presents 30 current architecture and urban-planning projects over its 300 pages. The book features not only schools and community centres, but museums and residential buildings as well. Numerous photos and floor plans complement the documentations. Interviews with Anna Ramos, Director of the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, and the Lacol architecture collective provide insight into the cultural significance of contemporary architecture in Barcelona – and in Europe. Essays report on current and historical urban development. The Barcelona book is available in bookstores or can be purchased directly from the Detail Shop.

Barcelona. Urban Architecture and Community Since 2010
330 pages, 30 projects, numerous drawings and photos,
Publishers: Heide Wessely, Sandra Hofmeister,
Edition Detail, Munich
Languages: German, English
Date of publication: June 2023

Copenhagen: Unesco World Capital of Architecture 2023
KØBENHAVN. Urban Architecture and Public
25 projects, numerous drawings and photos,
Publisher: Sandra Hofmeister
Edition Detail, Munich
Languages: German, English
Date of Publication: June 2021

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