Matt Hassle El Reveal is in the centre of Barcelona and was the oldest part of the city with the worst reputation. It needed rebinding and to be regenerated. Regeneration is the process of coping with decline and encouraging re-arbitration. It Is often a process that Involves rebinding, this means that It; ‘refers to the creation of a new Identity or image for a city or an area of that city to replace an Identity that may have negative overtones’.
For Barcelona, the area that needed rebinding was El Rival. Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and is the capital of Catalonia. During the late 18th and 19th centuries the city became highly industrialized by the textile industry, mainly in the western side of the city, far from where the more prosperous members of society lived. This, along with the fact that the medieval city Is walled, meant that there where many people In one area as the prospect of work drew people from poorer areas of Spain.
Due to the high population density there were six storey tenement blocks often lacking the basic amenities and disease was a big problem. The decline of industry and the high population density lead to the decline of El Rival creating a reputation associated with crime, prostitution and drug trade. The southern area of El Rival had a developed a serious heroin problem In the sass’s and this was one of the first things to provoke the Catalonian government to sort out the problem along with an attempt to make the city more attractive for Barcelona bald to host the Olympic games in 1992.
Regeneration in El Rival was cultural, social, recreational and academic. The aims of the rebinding were to remove the previous active image and give El Rival a new distinct identity while altering the nature of the area and its activities by building on the earlier success in the city. This was achieved by changing the people to change the environment. Cultural regeneration began with the Museum Of Contemporary Art for Barcelona which was opened in 1988 and this is considered the flagship development in El Rival.
The aim of the museum’s placement in this area was to encourage the development of local restaurants and cafes as the museum itself didn’t have these amenities so the people would be forced to go into the local area in order to find hem. This can be considered a success as when I visited the area there were many restaurants and cafes. There were also many people In the area In front of the museum suggesting that for local people and visitors the area is seen as safe enough to sit and enjoy the open space that the demolition of the tenement buildings created.
Furthermore there would need to be worker and tour guides for the museum that would live in the local area. Therefore changing the people in the area and so changing the atmosphere of the area, a success. The creation of the Centre of Contemporary Culture for Barcelona also shows that the first project was a success another cultural site. However the problem with the success of the CB is that it was built on the former Case De la Cardiac seminary which was later an almshouse for the disabled and insane. The destruction of what could be seen as site of historical interest makes this particular project success less commendable.
The cultural rebinding of the area can also be seen as a success as there is yet another cultural project taking place, the Catalan Film Library which opened in 2011. The cultural generation, in my opinion has been a success as El Rival now hosts three important cultural structures, all with different attractions. For example the MCCABE was designed by a famous architect, Richard Meier, which for some is an attraction in itself and the Cab’s roof reflects the city skyline down to the port which draws tourists to the area. Academic change has also taken place in the area as well as social and recreational regeneration.
University buildings were built in the area bringing in a different type of people to the area. The University of Barcelona Geography, History and Philosophy Department opened in 2006 and this encouraged students and professors to the area. This strategy can be considered a success because an influx of the socially more mobile educated classes can bring future wealth and prosperity to the area. The students need specific services such as cheap accommodation and bookshops and this encourages the start of new businesses as well as making a reason to improve the tenement blocks.
The social changes in the area included the demolition or refurbishment of the tenement blocks to modernize them and make hem more affordable. These houses have been designed specifically for young, local people and therefore can be considered a success as they help the younger generation start on the property ladder. The weakness of this strategy is that the original residents have had to be moved elsewhere which could Just be moving the problem elsewhere. This strategy is also weak as it highly discriminative. Only people of a certain academic criteria were able to buy the houses.
The point of this was to reduce the average age. However this has not occurred recently as young families eve moved out leaving the elderly especially those with low income due to their low academic achievements. This is yet another problem with this scheme. Another social strategy was the creation of the Rival Rambles. It was created by destroying two lines of apartment blocks and rearranging the road pattern to create open space and develop a cafe culture. In some ways this strategy has been a success as there are many cafes in the area.
However the nearby streets are narrow and dark making the area feel a bit unsafe. This new area is also near a area of prostitution and drug leaning so the social regeneration is not yet complete. Another attempt to make the area seem more open and accessible is a sports and leisure complex at the lower end of El Rival. It is mainly in the area of the Rival Rambles that rebinding has occurred in the form of trying to make the place a tourist destination. This has been done by the building of two new hotels, one of them the Barreled Rival Hotel which has 5 starts.
This can be seen as a success because the building of these hotels has encouraged designer shops to open nearby demonstrating the change of the area as inaccessibility. All these social changes and projects can been seen as successes as they have changed the area yet the proximity to an area of prostitution suggests there is still a bit to be done. Overall the regeneration strategies in my view can be seen in as a success. There are now fewer people in El Rival. It is home to 46,000 people not the almost 200,000 who lived there before the process began. It is also a lot safer and the drug culture has decreased.
The influx of new buildings has created new Jobs and opportunities, for example there are many local run cafes near the MASC… By making the area a cultural hub with the Film Library and Centre for Contemporary Culture, the council have made sure that the area will continue to be in have investment due to the tourism and economic activity it generates. The new fancy hotels and shops are proof that change has occurred as these are non-council run and have developed because it is now seen as a positive commercial area and so rebinding has worked in El Rival. The aims of the rebinding have been achieved and so it is a success.
Previous negative images have been removed such as the crime by the literal redefining of El Rival. A Catalan word was created ‘reveal’ which means to visit and take in El Rival and to have fun in the wide range of bars and clubs. The nature of the activities has changed from residential to recreational due to the university and tourism due to the new cultural sites. In these ways El Rival has been given a new identity and so rebinding has been a success. However the problem with all the schemes is that the focus is on attracting visitors to the area not residents.
Even the students will leave after a couple of years and so whether the regeneration is a success in the true depends on whether the age imbalance is addressed and whether there is housing for everyone. Another weakness with the regeneration is the fact that so many people had to move therefore the regeneration in El Rival could be Just be seen as moving the problem of the drugs and crime elsewhere. I think that El Rival’s proximity to other tourist attractions has not only given the incentive to regenerate and rebind but also helped the process to be a success as it has been easy to attract people there as the tourists were nearby anyway.