The graduation studio Let’s work, industry architecture and the city proposed by the chair of design as politics offered me the possibility to investigate the relation between industry and the city. I begun to notice the political, social and architectural importance that industry had in the shaping of modern society. The cultural and social value of these places of work is enormous as they have been the epicentre of the political debate of the 19th and 20th century and gave birth to an egalitarian and fairer society. Also, from the perspective of architecture and urban design, factories have been a determining feature in the creation of urban settlements, massive urbanisation and the birth of modern cities are all direct consequences of 19th century industrialisation. Through the past centuries, battles and struggles, industry has inspired new ways of living and working together and has become a social institution.
Yet, in the wake of the 21h century, industry has lost its social and architectural role. Globalisation and economic deregulation have turned it into an outlaw by detaching it from local environments and communities. With offshoring and outsourcing, companies are no longer responsible for their supply chains which become increasingly hidden and complex. When we purchase a product today, it is very hard for us to determine and asses its production process and therefore its value. Industry has historically been zoned out of the cities because it polluted, but today, where polluting is no longer an option, shouldn’t we keep it under strict surveillance?
Contemporary industrial typology, is in my opinion both cause and consequence of this state of things. It reflects our behaviour towards objects and the way they are produced, our merciless drive for profit maximisation and ruthless exploitation of the environment and its resources. It has both ideological and spacial implications that have to be questioned.
The Poblenou in Barcelona embodies the relevance of my research. After having been the industrial epicentre of Spain during the 19th and 20th century, it is now being tertiarised to fill the voids left by the former factories. Offices, hotels and residences are undermining the identity of this area and its economic potential. For these reasons, the 22@ ( a modification of the 1978 PGM ) is now seeking new ways of working and living together trying to include cutting edge technologies and clean manufacturing facilities. It specifically demands for new industrial architectural typologies which move away from the inefficient horizontal shed towards more urban integrated solutions.
Thus, I am proposing an urban textile factory in the heart of the Poblenou as a political statement. A factory which re invents its typology to extract value from the activities complementary to production and to keep economic viability even in this central location. Every existing factory in fact includes complementary facilities such as the canteen, the cafeteria, the first aid room, the relaxing room, the training centre and many more which could become activities shared with the city instead of being subtracted from it. The spectacle of production could greatly contribute to the success of these businesses by making them more attractive. All this in an effort to escape from the contemporary industrial typology and the business as usual attitude which is threatening our planet.