Margarita Jover is an interport lecturer on Semester at Sea Summer 2012. She and her husband Inaki Alday are two of the hottest architects in Barcelona. This global couple splits their time between running a successful architecture firm (Aldayjover) in Barcelona and teaching at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Jover has spent ten days, as the ship crossed the Atlantic, helping the students understand the unique architecture of her hometown, Barcelona.
Jover talks to the students about the architecture they will find while in Barcelona; a mix between gothic and modern buildings. ¬†This mix, she says, represents the age and development of the city over time, but also the lively culture of artists that have fallen in love with Barcelona for centuries. Although the architecture of the buildings are magnificent, Jover points out that planning for public green space has been largely overlooked and is now a growing concern for many who live in the city.
Upon arriving in Barcelona we spent the afternoon at the Aldayjover office, which is located inside the original city center. As we approach¬†their¬†building, the 20-foot door is a clear sign this office is someplace special. Inside, we are literally transported through time as this 17th century palace still has many of its original elements, including its inhabitants, who are the last original family to live in one of Barcelona‚Äôs palaces. Throughout history, the palace was expanded to accommodate modern conveniences. The newest element in this home is a worn marble staircase; a feature we often think of in the oldest buildings in The United States.
While there, we learned about how they plan to revitalize Barcelona by adding nearly 2 miles of park space, and at the same time increase the city‚Äôs connectivity. With 1.5 million people, public space in Barcelona is at a premium and central to any development project. They will create a living, growing park that sits atop the existing train tracks. This new ‚Äúgreen diagonal‚Äù leads to the core of the city, connecting these urban areas to natural areas on the outskirts.¬† It also connects two neighborhoods that are currently divided by the tracks.
The interesting dynamic of centralizing efficient transportation and enjoyable public space is not one we often see in The United States, but not for long if Aldayjover has anything to do with it.¬†Alday talks about how, in the past, innovate architectural works of Barcelona have historically been done by locals. ¬†Today Spanish architects are spreading around the world, bringing their influence to others, but also bringing the best of what‚Äôs around back to Barcelona.
It‚Äôs a sure thing that SAS students on future voyages will list the Aldayjover park as a must-see while visiting Barcelona.