Register: NOV/19/2017, Submit: DEC/04/2017, Eligibility: Architecture (and related fields) undergraduate students; graduate, masters, and PhD students who obtained undergraduate degree less than 3 years ago; young professional architects who graduated less than 10 years ago; individually, teams (interdisciplinary – photographers, artists, philosophers, etc.) up to 6 members, Fee: 60,50 EUR (AUG/07 – SEP/24/2017), 90,75 EUR (SEP/25 – OCT/22/2017), 121 EUR (OCT/23 – NOV/19/2017), (VAT included), Awards: Students – 1st Prize 2,000 EUR, 2nd Prize 1,000 EUR, 3rd Prize 500 EUR, 10 Honorable Mentions; Young architects – 1st Prize 2,000 EUR, 3 Honorable Mentions
During the boom economic years in Spain the employment, opportunities and wishful thinking thrived. The banks would finance more than 100% of the home purchases and facilitated the purchase operations over the rental transactions. Starting in 2007, the real estate bubble exploded, the economy collapsed, 26% of the working population became unemployed and the price of housing fell dramatically. Because many people could not pay their mortgage, thousands were evicted and others were left with a debt far greater than the real value of the property.
Nowadays the worst part of the crises has passed. Unemployment has declined, banks are lend- ing again and house prices are dangerously on the rise. Barcelona is going through a moment of housing emergency, suffering a second real estate crisis in less than 10 years. Housing prices and rents are out of control and are pushing young people and their neighbors out of the city.
The pleasant urban conditions of Barcelona have driven multiple immigrant investors to buy households in the city to speculate on its price: investment funds buy entire buildings and leave them empty to control housing prices. In the words of urbanist Raquel Rolnik, “the commodification of housing has made the price of housing in the city of Barcelona increase by 5.5% during 2016 and by 12.1% in the first quarter of 2017”.
Moreover, tourism grows every year in the city surpassing the 10 million tourists in 2014. On one hand the business tourism with the Fira of Barcelona and the Mobile World Congress, Brandery or Construmat, among others. On the other hand the leisure touristic sector through the cruise ships and the great airflow. The pressure of tourism causes the flat rents for short term using online rental platforms, drastically reducing the residential rental offer and therefore increasing its price. Housing rental prices already exceed the 2007 pre-crisis real estate prices. The average monthly rent exceeds the minimum wage in 35 of the city’s 75 neighborhoods, and 90% of evictions in the city are from families who cannot afford the rent. Currently Barcelona only has 1.5% of social rental housing, a figure far removed from the 50% in Vienna, or 30% in cities such as Berlin or Paris.
As of this problem the union of tenants emerges in Barcelona “Tenance Unions”, a critical initiative to try to stop the expulsion of neighbors from the neighborhoods of Barcelona. With actions in the street to claim housing as a right and not a commodity, the organization proposes to extend the term of contracts and set mechanisms to limit prices.
How can we create new spaces of coexistence for the population where living is a right and not a luxury?
The Barcelona model has been for many years a synonym for exemplary treatment of public spaces. The streets, sidewalks and plazas were designed of holistic form paying special attention to detail, using noble materials and ensuring the accessibility of all citizens. Barcelona is also a benchmark in the widespread use of public transport where 75% of daily mobility is carried out in sustainable ways and in 2015 about 658 million trips were made on public transport. Although the presence of the car is still very present, people walk a lot and use the bicycle as a means of transport. Given the current housing emergency, Barcelona faces a new challenge and wants to accompany these quality urban spaces with new ways of living. Conscious of this, Barcelona City Council wants to be a reference once again, this time in the treatment of public housing, and is implementing policies to increase the public housing stock in the city.
Sensitive to this problem, and aware that this competition can serve as a background on ideas about housing in Barcelona, from ARCHmedium we invite students and young architects to explore new typologies about social housing in a consolidated environment in the center of Barcelona. We propose the transformation of an office building from the early 20th century to experimental social rental housing. The existing building of 18,000 m2 will accommodate more than 160 homes and shops in the neighborhood.
The objective of the competition is to guarantee the social function of housing through rethinking the housing space. Proposals must explore new typologies and urban ways to respond to the program and improve the scope of intervention. The intervention must meet the highest environmental criteria, seeking a low energy consumption.
Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean coast, on a plain sloping between two river deltas: Llobregat and Besós while the Collserola mountain range, parallel to the coastline, acts as a natural barrier to the northwest. The city has a maritime Mediterranean climate with an annual average of 16º where the winters are cool with an average of 9º in January and the summers are warm with an average of 24º in August.
The city is one of the most important ports of the Mediterranean being a global city of cultural, commercial and tourist importance. A population of more than 1,600,000 people is estimated as one of the most compact and dense cities in the world with 16,000 people per km 2. Overall with the metropolitan area, Barcelona has 3.2 million people.
Barcelona was founded by the Romans in 218 BC. under the name of Barcino. The city was a military fortification with a “Forum” square in the center, right where today is the Catalan autonomous government and the City hall of Barcelona. After centuries of crisis and later industrialization, the city demolishes its walls in 1859 which allowed an urban plan of growth designed by Ildefonso Cerdá. Grid streets and chamfered corners are characteristic features of the city that work to this day.
The city has a rich architectural history. Examples are the Roman legacy, the gothic cathedral of Barcelona and the work of Antoni Gaudí among others. Headquarters of two Universal exhibitions in the years 1888 and 1929, this last one in which Mies Van der Rohe made the famous German pavilion. Thanks to the Olympic Games of 1992, the city invested in buildings, undergoing a radical transformation with buildings such as the Agbar Tower designed by Jean Nouvel or the MACBA museum designed by Richard Meier and in infrastructures such as sewers, highways and streets. Within the illustrious streets of Barcelona is the Via Laietana, which is 900 meters long, 80 meters wide and with 53,000 vehicles a day, it is one of the main arteries of the city.
In the place there was a set of buildings and narrow streets of old town that needed to be cleaned and, with the excuse of the progress, a new rectilinear route with monumental architectures was traced. In the course of this transformation, 300 buildings were demolished and about 10,000 people had to look for new housing. The street, which connects the city with the port, is slightly more than 100 years old and has always been a focus of important economic activity.
The building of Via Laietana 8-10 has an area of 18,000 square meters and an imposing aspect. Although it currently houses public delegations, it was built at the beginning of the 20th century for residential use. The metallic and regular structure gives diaphanous interiors with potential to accommodate housing. Today, 20 entities come together to request that the building, owned by the municipality, will house 160 public rental apartments. This will increase the public rental park by protecting the city’s neighbors in the fight against gentrification.
We propose the transformation of an office building located in Via Laietana 8-10 to public rental housing. The building has a Ground Floor + 7 floors and a Roof Top Terrace. Without taking into consideration the interior patios and stairs, the building has 10,000 m2 to intervene.
The competition establishes the adaption of 1,500 m2 of commerce in the ground floor and 160 houses in the upper floors. The houses contemplate different sizes, users and typologies that will cover the whole of the building.
The building has 2 basement floors that will not be taken into account for the competition. The program of the Roof Top Terrace is left free for participants to propose what they think is adequate.
A) Rental Housing – total 9,600 m2
- Young couple: 60 units x 40 m2 = 2,400 m2
- Big family: 10 units x 120 m2 = 1,200 m2
- Small family: 80 units x 60 m2 = 4,800 m2
- Home office: 10 units x 120 m2 = 1,200 m2
B) Small Commerce – total 1,500 m2
- Comerce: 10 units x 150 m2 = 1,500 m2
Total (A + B) – 11,100 m2