If you have followed our updates over the last few months, you already know about one of this year’s main focal points, the Ciutat Meridiana workshop, an academic exercise and collaboration with the peripheral Barcelona neighborhood of Ciutat Meridiana, whose aim is to improve the living conditions in this socio-economic and urbanistically challenged neighborhood which suffers the highest eviction rate in Spain as a result of the financial crisis.
After a two-month investigation of the city’s historical, cultural and physical conditions and engaging community participation to collect vital data on the neighborhood’s reality, students presented their proposals at the community library on December 19th to an audience that included Ciutat Meridiana residents.
The proposals ranged from physical improvements like a new civic axis linking the different parts of the steep neighborhood and a series of interventions to reconnect the city to its natural surroundings to more socio-cultural tools like a manual for citizen participation strategies, a time-banking site to generate social capital, and a guide map of the neighborhood’s most significant cultural routes. In addition, students created an online crowdmap of vacant apartments and opportunities for public spaces, which can now serve as a database for the community’s future use.
Due to the neighborhood’s primary concern with the lack of jobs and economic difficulties, the focus was not only on the urban context. “We felt the need to make social aspects a priority,” codirector Carmen Mendoza explains, for whom it was especially important to promote the positive aspects of Ciutat Meridiana so that its residents would not feel marginalized.
Students initiated online community-building strategies including a Miciutatmeridiana Facebook page (“My Ciutat Meridiana) and an Instragram feed that collects personal stories and documents the neighborhood’s urban, cultural and social character, which they hope local residents will embrace and continue to promote.