Urban Planning stay balance

When we decided to make a residence about urbanism, we knew that we had to be able to talk about the nearest cities and how the concept of city is modified to adapt it to the realities with which it dialogues. As can be seen from the curriculum and projects that have been brought together in Faber, a wide range of areas is covered, from sustainable communication between cities to the need to take into account the social welfare field. In between we talk about dynamic societies where art and culture have a clear space, and we also talk about the management of town halls or the environment, to mention some of the fields in which residents have worked. The residents have talked about all these issues and it could not have been otherwise. The boundaries between urban planning theory and other forms of knowledge and action are becoming increasingly narrower and dialogue and cooperation are essential.

This, which is easy to write on paper, we have tried that in Faber it becomes a reality in a transversal way. Not only in terms of the educational programme, which we try to ensure covers as many ages and levels as possible, but also taking into account the economic, social and geographical reality of our environment. This was what we thought we had to do when we planned to spend our time in cities with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. That is why the collaboration with Vall d’en Bas Town Council and Dinàmig has been so important. Residents leave regularly in Olot and also in nearby villages such as Castellfollit, Santa Pau, Besalú, Amer, San Privat or els Hostalets, but in this case it has been essential to have the help of la Vall d’en Bas technicians to be able to explain what the reality of the region is.

They have been very intense days, aware that most residents want to know the city and the country and that they have a very complete agenda of activities. Most of them have done these activities in schools and high schools. Mo Sirra, a freelance researcher in Baghdad’s art, design and curatorship practice, explored Olot’s old town with a group of 6th grade primary school students from Cor de Maria school. Alessandra Romeo, landscape architect and artist from Sicily (Italy), carried out an eight-hour workshop at the Escola Pia in Olot with the aim of discovering the urban landscape through the perception of sixty children of 5th graders. Clara Nubiola, Catalan artist and illustrator, gave a talk with a practical part about illustrated cartographies and drawing as a tool for critical thinking at the Olot School of Art. Architect and educator Maxwell Mutanda from Zimbabwe went to the IN Castell d’Estela in Amer where, through drawing, he tried to stimulate the students’ imagination. Ghadeer Mansour, an economist and urban planner from the United States, spoke to high school students at Petit Plançó school about the concept of financing city development projects.

We must take advantage of the time, the residents have made a route through la Vall d’en Bas due to the interest shown by Jessica Wurwarg, specialist in urbanism and politics of New York, and Angelina Davydova, Russian environmental journalist. On this route they visited the Mirador de Falgars d’en Bas; the farm but the Coromina as an example of diversification, education and local produce; the workshop of the artist Jordi Traveria, who works glass. And after lunch, a stroll through the village of Hostalets d’en Bas and finally a quiet tour along the road. All this, accompanied by the technicians of Vall d’en Bas, Xevi and Maria and also the mayor, Lluís Amat. Thank you all for your kindness and predisposition. Also our thanks to Marc Muntanya, shepherd and cheese maker of Santa Pau, for having collaborated in explaining how a cattle farm works today and here.

The residents have also visited the Landscape Observatory’s documentation centre and Wattia company. Zero Space. Franc Comino, as always, he has been a magnificent master of ceremonies.

The residents have also collaborated with the Dinàmig and Transversal Landscape technicians in a day to explain the state of Olot’s old town. When we talk about urban planning, we are not only talking about infrastructures or budget and budget management, we are also talking about people who inhabit a space, a history and a heritage. Brenda Parker, Negin Armioun, Aristofanis Soulikias, Monica Datta, Etienne Rouziés, Maria Sisternas and Sofia Royo already knew about the Landscape Observatory, but they were able to complement the view of our surroundings with a deep immersion in the axes of work that are being carried out in the old town of Olot.

Similarly, this stay has also served to strengthen Faber’s ties with the Consortium of Social Action of la Garrotxa. We have always understood the axes of work as living elements and in contact with other parts of the management of culture and society. Alessandra Romeo, Brenda Parker, Negin Armioun and Anne McCullogh have participated in several explanatory meetings with the technicians of the Consortium.

Finally, Monica Datta and Aritofanis Soulikias have made proposals for longer term solo work that we will receive in the coming weeks. This complements the idea of living residence that we have already rehearsed with the exhibition of Clara Nubiola. Brenda Parker gave the lecture: “Utopian Feminist Urbanisms? Challenging dichotomies and determinism” at the Centre for the History of Science (CEHIC) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. We would like to thank at all times the facilities that have put us both Joel Piqué and UAB.

We close this urban period with a more than satisfactory balance. Not only because of the objectives achieved, but also because each stay is useful for us to try out new activities and forms of teamwork and in relation to other institutions. We are particularly pleased with the cooperation with the Landscape Observatory, which at all times was open to participating in activities and proposing names of residents. Clara Nubiola, for example, will inaugurate her exhibition “He caminat tots els carrers d’Olot” (10th of February at 11.30 am in Can Trincheria), a work that arose from her stay in Faber.